ZIMBABWE requires about 173 million male and female condoms annually to meet demand, a Ministry of Health and Childcare official said on Thursday.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
For this year, the country with a population of about 16 million received about 136 million condoms.
Addressing a High level Advocacy Meeting for Comprehensive Condom Programming in Zimbabwe Health and Childcare Deputy Director of AIDS and STIs, Dr Tsitsi Apollo said in 2017, the country used over half of the needed amount. With Wednesday being the International Condom Day, the meeting was a precursor to the Celebrations to be held in Karoi on Saturday.
“There is substantial unmet need for condoms in Zimbabwe based on the UNAIDS calculator. About 173 million condoms are needed annually to support coverage of 90% high risk sex acts; however, only 122 million condoms (70%) are distributed while 98m (56% of needed) were used (2017),” she said.
She also bemoaned the dwindling financing of condom programming.
“Sadly major donors are beginning to pull back from providing free and subsidized condoms; however, the need for condoms is not any less. Funding for all HIV-related activities from all government donor sources (including the Global Fund) has dropped — nearly 20 percent between 2014 and 2016.
“US-government funding for HIV prevention declined 45 percent during the same time frame, and funding for condom programming (e.g. demand creation through social marketing programs) is also dropping. Prevention funding from the Global Fund has declined 40 percent from its peak in 2014, and prevention funding now accounts for 12 percent of HIV funding,” said Dr Apollo.
On the sidelines of the meeting, Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council Technical Services Director Dr Nonhlanhla Zwangobani said donors managed to give them 132 million male condoms and over 4 million units for females.
“For male condoms we received 132 million units for 2019 and for female condoms we received 4 700 000.
“We found that the male condom is more consumed than the female condom. Those are the trends we have seen but we are working to increase the usage of female condoms,” she said.
She also said during the period of June to December 2018 they doled out 50 000 female condoms.
“Last year between July and December 2018, we distributed approximately 50 000 female condoms and for male condoms we distributed about 2 million pieces. And for male condoms our average monthly consumption we have seen is about 8 million per month and for females it’s about 354 000 per month,” said Dr Zwangobani.
A USAID HIV official Mr Samson Chidiya said there was need for Zimbabwe to explore into domestic funding for condom procurement as well as look into taking a total marketing approach.
He said this approach entails market research using marketing analytics to determine who need the free, subsidised and expensive condoms.
For college students, it was revealed they have shunned condoms preferring emergency contraceptives like Morning after Pills while at times armed with information some opt for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis.
National Aids Council of Zimbabwe Acting Operations Director Se Wilfred Dube said in a survey they did on the preferred location they found that the majority felt condoms were best placed in bars.
“In a condom study that we carried out as National Aids Council, around the issues of accessibility and availability of condoms in the communities, we discovered that the majority of the people felt that if the condoms were placed in bars, they would be accessible to them. The second highest percentage was in health centres, that is the clinics. The third one was to do with youth centres,” he said.
The students complained of location of condoms at school, clinics, and pharmacies saying the workers at these facilities are judgmental.