The New Times (Kigali)

17 September 2012

East Africa: UNFPA Calls for Increase in Condom Supply

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has indicated that use and access to condoms by the youth, especially those between ages 15 to 24 in Rwanda, was low.

According to UNAIDS survey of 2010 indicated that 56 per cent of new HIV infection were from sex workers mainly due to lack of access to preventive tools like condoms.

Cheikh Fall, Officer in Charge, UNFPA Rwanda, said according to the Demographic Health Survey 2010, 79 per cent of women and 66 per cent of men know that the risk of getting HIV can be reduced by using condoms and limiting sex to one uninfected partner.

He added, however, the same survey revealed disturbing results because it indicated that among unmarried women and men aged 15-24 who had sex in the past 12 months, "42 percent of women used a condom while 66 percent of men used a condom in the same period.

This shows that we still have a lot of work to do in this area," he explained officiating at the opening of a five-day workshop on comprehensive condom programming capacity building workshop for East and Southern Africa.

He said each of the countries represented had registered some achievements as far as condom programming was concerned, but they also have some challenges that should be dealt with to make comprehensive condom programming a success.

"We need to ensure that persons at risk of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, and unintended pregnancies, are motivated to use male or female condoms, have access to quality condoms, accurate condom information and knowledge and use condoms correctly and consistently" he continued.

Dr Anicet Nzabonimpa, in charge of Family Planning and HIV integration who represented the Minister of Health, said despite the impressive results, there were some challenges as regards condom use.

"In the midst of decreasing financial resources, we need to revise our investment strategy. Treatment and care for HIV and Aids costs a lot. All studies have shown that if we don't invest our little resources in a combination of prevention approaches which support consistent male and female condom use, dividends are very high," he explained.

According to the UNFPA there are challenges in understanding logistics and supply management systems, including maintaining a nine month condom buffer stock as recommended by the UNFPA Procurement Services Branch (PSB) in most of the East and southern African as regards condoms.

This followed assessment of findings and validation meeting that highlighted a number of important achievements and challenges that showed capacity gaps. Of critical concern was the requirement for post-shipment inspection in 13 countries, even if the condoms in question were from a pre-qualified supplier.

Therefore, in order to address these challenges and resultant recommendations by building on existing successes, the UNFPA Sub-Regional Office is conducting a Comprehensive Condoms Programming capacity building workshop for twelve selected countries in Eastern and Southern Africa - Botswana, Burundi, DRC, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, South Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

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