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Condom shortage hits Central Kenya

An acute shortage of condoms has hit Central Kenya forcing some men to be using nylon papers as alternative.

The shortage has been reported by Central Region Sex Workers Union Chair, Mary Wanjiru.

She said efforts to reach public health extension workers to replenish the diminished stock have not been successful for the past three weeks.

“The government through its health workers has been supplying condoms to bars and lodgings. But for the past three weeks, we have not received the stock. Our clients are being forced to use nylon papers instead,” she said.

Africa Condom king Stanley Ngara attributed the scarcity to erratic policies that tax latex importation in a harsh way. said.

“We know the government is financing a litany of programs related to reproductive health. It needs partners from the public sector to help it achieve it’s goals. But the taxation burden is unfriendly hence the scarcity” he said.

Ms Wanjiru said men find it hard to buy the condoms from retailers “since they are costly and again, they are used to finding us stocking for them the free ones.”

She said economic times are hard for many low income earners who constitute the big client base for sex trade.

“Telling a man who only has Sh500 to spend in our sector to set aside Sh50 for condoms is a depressant. The least amount he can haggle for a brief treat is Sh250. That man needs to take a drink…others smoke and want to retain fare. It is logical that they expect us to stock condoms for them. We now have a shortage of them,” she said.

The national Condom Queen Brenda Alwanyi said the government besides giving out free ARVS, should ensure that high demand of condoms is countered with high supply.

She said shortage of condoms is tantamount to declaring a viral warfare against citizens.

Faith Ndung’u who is Aids Healthcare Foundation (AHF-Kenya) Programmes development and advocacy manager says the government must come up with mechanism of stemming the acute shortage of condoms “that now has become routine.”

She said the government should come up with modalities of bringing down the high taxes currently prevailing against those willing to step in and help the country restock.

“There are many partners who would voluntarily step in and help the government gap the deficit.

Unfortunately, the aggregate tax regime slapped on condom procurements is Shilling for a shilling. The government should come up with friendly corroborative policies,” Ms Ndung’u said.

Mr Ngara lamented that the electioneering season currently peaking has not made the condom a national subject.

“We want to hear these politicians talk of condoms, ARVs, teen pregnancies, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)…we want to hear these politicians publicly declaring that the condom is related to the future of our youths, families, country

National Assembly Committee on Health Chairman Sabina Chege said the structures of addressing teen pregnancies, safe reproductive choices among the adults as well as all attached remedial health services have been classified as a national governance culture.

“Both at the local and national level, we have been pulling together to ensure all the concerns have been addressed in a timely and efficient manner. I can assure you that the taxation and condom deficit concerns are being addressed at very high levels and soon it shall be revealed that indeed something is being done about it,” she said.

The AHF Murang’a chapter coordinator Ms Beth Kamau said efforts to salvage the situation are on and needs multi-agency cooperation to succeed.

“We all know where we have come from regarding HIV and Aids. We have managed to tame the disease’s monstrous face of the 1990’s to the current humane nature where it can be said to be a friend of man,” she said.

Ms Kamau said all efforts should not be spared to ensure that HIV and Aids continue to shed off its death verdict nature and continue to be home to positive stories of conquest.

“It is for that reason that the many actors at the frontline against the scourge have come up with a myriad of innovations, creativity and enforcements that seek to sustain the defeat that the disease has suffered in the country,” she said.

She highlighted the national rollout for Anti-retroviral drugs, friendly testing methods and provision of dietary boosts for the infected.

“For instance, testing nowadays has been personalised, made dignified and private. You can in the privacy of your room test yourself using saliva swabs in the now decade-old OraQuick testing method,” she said.