Kenya faces a condom shortage next month if Kenyan and international leaders do not work fast to obtain more. The shortage threatens to put Kenyans at a greater risk of contracting HIV and other STIs.
According to Nelson Otwoma, Executive Director of The National Empowerment Network for People Living with HIV and AIDS in Kenya (NEPHAK), Kenya obtains 83 million male condoms per year. Many of them come from international partner programs like the United States’ President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)–which has faced controversy before for promoting abstinence-only programs and diverting funds away from family planning commodities. This amount is not enough for a country of over 44 million people, as evidenced by another previous shortage in 2011.
The stockout puts more people at risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections–especially people who cannot afford to pay for condoms. Around 1.6 million Kenyans already currently live with HIV, and there are nearly 100,000 new infections each year, according to the National Aids Control Council (NACC).
“Kenya’s low investment in the national response to HIV is set to hurt its ambitious goal of achieving zero new HIV infections,” NephaK reported in a weekly bulletin last week [see PDF].
NEPHAK is pushing for President Uhuru Kenyatta to direct the National Treasury to create a supplementary budget for obtaining more condoms and to take more responsibility for obtaining condoms for people nationwide, rather than relying on county governments to procure them.
However, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Health James Macharia denies that a shortage is coming and claims that there are 52 million more condoms set to arrive in December.