‘No cause to worry over condoms supply’

Arusha. Health workers and stakeholders in the sector should not be much worried on the reported shortage of condoms in the country. The issue is being fully addressed by the relevant authorities and hundreds of cartons have been procured for distribution, a senior health official has said.

Dr Leonard Maboko, the executive director of the Tanzania Commission for Aids (Tacaids) said here early this week that condoms supply would be sustained given the demand. “This time around we will ensure they reach the targeted groups,” he told the just ended HIV Dissemination Conference which attracted all players in the fight against the epidemic. Without giving details, the Commission’s boss hinted that the reported shortage may have been due consignments of the protective gear not reaching the intended groups.

Shortage of condoms, deemed to be one of the major weapons against HIV/Aids, emerged during the conference attended by health experts and aid organisations involved in the fight against the epidemic.

Although officials at the meeting distanced themselves on the statistics, it is estimated that the annual demand for condoms in Tanzania is in the region of 30 million.

The stocks are imported and sold at subsidized prices or distribute free of charge by organizations involved in HIV/Aids programmes as well as the health institutions.

It is the same organizations and the donor supported health programmes which do the marketing of condoms in an effort to reduce the infection rates.

According to Dr Maboko, 72,000 people are being newly infected with HIV in Tanzania annually while the deaths from HIV/Aids related ailments is estimated at 24,000 a year.

“Prevention strategies need to be strengthened and this has to include effective condom programming to make sure that those who are negative maintain their negative status,” he said. Deogratus Rutatwa, the chief executive officer of the National Council of People Living with HIV said it was true there has been a shortage of condoms in the pharmacies and ordinary shops.