THE Zambia Medical Association says there is a shortage of condoms in the country.
Association president Aaron Mujajati said this was evidenced by lack or inadequate stocks of the commodity in HIV-related organisations and hospitals.
“If you go to health facilities, you find that most health facilities do not have adequate stocks of condoms. If you speak to CSOs who are involved in HIV prevention programmes, they will tell you that they do not have adequate stocks of condoms,” he said.
“So the majority of condoms are the ones which are commercially available, like you have to go into a shop and buy. Now the ones that we factor in HIV prevention programmes are the ones we distribute for free; the ones you find in hospitals, and in public places.That is where the problem is and that is why we are saying if it is procurement, it needs to be fixed. If it is distribution, they need to fix it.”
Dr Mujajati said some facilities had completely no condoms.
“What is happening on the ground is that if you talk to CSOs, they will tell you they don’t have condoms while some of them may have inadequate supply of condoms. That is what we are saying. It could be either one of these but the bottom line is that at the level of the user, the condoms are not available,” reiterated Dr Mujajati.
“So they need to tell us, if it is Medical Stores [Limited], Medical Stores needs to tell us what challenges they are facing with distribution of condoms if they have them in stock. If they don’t have them in stock, they need to tell us what has happened to the procurement of condoms because at the level of the user, there is inadequate condom supply and our concern now is that we are affecting the fight against HIV.”
But health permanent secretary Dr Peter Mwaba said ZMA should seek audience with him to justify their claims about the condom shortage.
“You know some of these things must be verified. Do hospitals store condoms? We must be objective. How would the hospitals store condoms? I don’t want to engage my colleagues because these are my colleagues. My approach is very simple. If there are issues Zambia Medical Association has, let us sit down and discuss,” said Dr Mwaba.
“That is the way we will build the country. If you are an association, which even the PS is a member, then you find that there are issues of condoms and you go and talk to the press, what are you achieving? Because surely, by the time we are issuing the statement, we should have done the homework. We would know where the problem is and address it.”