African Condom Shortage Crisis Amidst AIDS Pandemic

Due to inadequate aid efforts by the United States and other donor countries, acute shortages of condoms have been contributing the rapid rise in HIV/AIDS cases in Africa. Thoraya Obaid, the Executive Director of United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), asserts that if all the condoms available in Africa were to be distributed, every man would get only three condoms a year, reports The Standard.

For example, Uganda is facing a severe condom shortage. According to BBC News, the main supplier of condoms in Uganda, the state owned brand Engabu, has been banned and the procedure for approving new condom imports has been lengthened. In addition, free and subsidized condoms that were being distributed by the Ministry of Health are running out, reports Xinhua General News Service.

The coordinator for Uganda’s state on condoms fears that they “are going to face six months of limited supply” and that “some people might have unprotected sex.” Between 80-100 million condoms are used in Uganda each year; however, the government is left with only five million condoms for the next six months, reports Xinhau General News Service. AIDS, the spread of which can be prevented by condom use, is the leading cause of death for those aged 15-49 years in Uganda, reports UNAIDS.

While advocating for abstinence-only HIV/AIDS prevention policies instead of a comprehensive HIV/AIDS prevention strategy, the Bush administration has withdrawn $34 million annually since July 2002 for the UNFPA, an international organization that has been providing contraceptives and reproductive health services to the poorest people in the developing world that are at the highest risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. In addition, the Bush Administration’s gag rule has been scaring organizations away from integrating reproductive health services with their HIV/AIDS programs for fear of losing funding, a strategy that many AIDS and women’s rights activists see as being a crucial component of the fight against AIDS.

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BBC News 12/13/04; Xinhua General News Service 12/13/04; The New Vision (Uganda) 12/13/04; The Standard (Kenya) 9/5/04; IRIN News 12/15/04; Financial Times 10/02/02; UNAIDS

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