Condom shortage hits Bungoma County

By , K24 Digital
On Mon, 28 Nov, 2022 18:58 | 3 mins read
Condom shortage hits Bungoma County
Government-supplied Sure condoms. PHOTO/Courtesy

Residents of Bungoma County are decrying a shortage of government-supplied condoms.

The residents say the county has been facing an acute shortage of condoms for months now, putting them at risk of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and unplanned pregnancies.

Eric Barasa, a resident of Bongoma town, expressed fears that the festive season is likely to exacerbate the situation and lead to a spike in infections and cases of early pregnancies among school children.

Speaking to the media, County Aid Control Coordinator Fred Barasa confirmed the residents' fears, saying the situation is dire.

"There is a severe shortage of condoms in Bungoma County. We anticipate that HIV cases may rise because we don't have alternatives for condoms in the county," he said adding that there is a nationwide shortage of condoms.

"Every part of the country is feeling the shortage. We had condom dispensers mounted in all dispensers in Bungoma County but they are now empty and the public is now concerned."

Barasa said his team had approached several organisations to restock the hospitals but they are yet to receive any positive feedback.

Joy Nyarotho, a clinical officer based in Bungoma, said the county has been receiving alarming cases of new HIV/AIDs infections, especially among young people between 15-24 years.

She said due to the current shortage some residents had resorted to reusing what is available, oblivious to the risks involved.

Some of the other counties affected include Vihiga, Kakamega and Busia.

Last month, commercial sex workers in Busia said the shortage had forced them to wash and reuse the available contraceptives.

A sex worker, who spoke to a local television station said the county has been experiencing a shortage of female and male condoms for a while and the few that are available are from the neighbouring country, Uganda.

Janerose Ambuchi, the Director of Medical Services in Busia county, however, said her office was not aware of the recycling of the contraceptives.

"It has not come to my desk but if it's happening it should not be allowed to continue because the integrity of the condom is going to be affected. The second and third use because of lack of condoms will expose this generation to danger," Ambuchi said.

Why there is a condom shortage

The officer attributed the short supply of condoms to a decline in international donor funding.

"The county (Busia) is experiencing an acute shortage of condoms which is not a Busia problem alone. It's a national problem. This is a donor-funded commodity based on a global fund. At the moment, donor funding has dwindled," she said.

In February, the National Aids Control Council (NACC) said there is a serious shortage of condoms in the country, exposing the public to the risk of contracting HIV/Aids, unplanned pregnancies and other sexually transmitted infections.

NACC said the country’s condom demand stands at 480 million annually while the current stock is only 79 million.

Speaking while marking the World Condoms Day at Kenya Coast Polytechnic in Mombasa, NACC Coast Region Coordinator Omar Mwanjama said the country is faced with a deficit of 401 million condoms, a move that has affected free supply of the commodity to the targeted population.

“The country is working on a low supply compared to the demand. The shortage is real and needs to be addressed as it might slow down the gains in the fight against Aids and other STIs,” Mwanjama said.

The shortage has forced NACC to focus only on those in dire need of the commodity offered free by the government.

“Situation has forced us to focus on only those in dire need, which has raised complaints. The demand shows that a huge population depends on free government condoms,” added Mwanjama.

Aids Healthcare Foundation  Prevention Programmes Manager Mary Nyaguthii called on the government to address the shortage, saying it is adversely affecting the fight against HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

“Shortage of condoms is a big blow in the fight against HIV/Aids. The government needs to assure Kenyans of enough supplies through partnerships with other health organisations,” Nyaguthii said.

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