Health‎ > ‎

Kenyan community re-uses condoms due to scarcity

posted 25 Mar 2011, 08:23 by Mpelembe   [ updated 25 Mar 2011, 08:26 ]

Shortage of condoms in Kenya sees one community washing and re-using them -- a move that has medical groups shocked

A community in northern Kenya is washing and re-using condoms after a nationwide shortage in public health outlets, where they are given for free.

Health authorities admitted that the country is facing a condom shortage and has made an emergency order of 45 million more to replenish its dwindling stocks of 19 million, which lasted for six weeks.

George Ekitale, who lives in the remote nomadic Isiolo county, in northern Kenya says he has been washing used condoms because he cannot access new ones. He says the the scarcity of condoms makes an already difficult journey to far away health centers even more unlikely for residents of the area.

"We do not have any hospitals near here; we are so much in the rural. We have to walk for kilometers, for example if you brought a pack of condoms with you, your neighbor will borrow one and you remain with two. This means that you will only have two remaining and to avoid making the trip again you just have to wash and re-use them," he said.

The emergency supply will come from the US President's Emergency plan for AIDS relief (PEPFAR) and is expected in early April.

Kenya, whose population recently reached 40 million saw its condom demand shoot to 20 million from eight million a month, some years ago. Health experts have warned that the shortage will see an average of eight million Kenyans lose access to condoms.

"In our projection what we had projected was less than what the demand was, so we have learnt from our mistakes which is that there is an increased demand for condoms," said Shahnaaz Sharaf, Director for Public health.

The Kenyan government recently signed an agreement with the United Nations population fund to supply some 180 million condoms which are expected to last till August.

Sub-Saharan Africa continues to bear the brunt of HIV-AIDS and accounts for 72 percent of global AIDS-related deaths.

In Kenya AIDS-related deaths have fallen by 29 percent since 2002.