He says the condom shortage is likely to fuel HIV and sexually transmitted infections in the district amongst sexually active couples who canâ€™t afford to buy condoms from private dispensers.
Government health centers in Gulu district have run out of condoms. Hotels in Gulu town, which have partnered with the municipal health department to dispense condoms to their guests, have also not been spared. John Opwonya, the District condom Focal Officer says government facilities have not received any condom supplies over the last six months.
He says the condom shortage is likely to fuel HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) in the district especially amongst sexually active couples who can’t afford to buy them from private dispensers. Opwonya says despite the fact that they have been receiving some condoms from Nongovernmental organizations, they are still inadequate. According to Opwonya, the district has been receiving between 20,000 and 30,000 condoms from National Medical Store after every two weeks.
A pack of in private pharmacies in Gulu town goes for between 1500 and 5000 shillings while femidom costs between 20,000 and 30,000 shillings. Some drug shop owners interviewed by URN say they have registered increased demand for condoms over the last six months. Lilly Auma, a drug shop owner says most of her customers don’t mind about the price of the condoms. Dr Shaban Mugerwa, the senior medical officer in the department of STDs/HIV in the Ministry of Health was recently quoted in one of the dailies attributing the condom shortage to the lengthy procurement process at the Global Fund Headquarters in Geneva, which he said did not rhyme with Uganda’s.
He said that they had anticipated that the condoms would be in the country earlier but blamed the delay on the new system, where Global fund distributes the items instead of cash. According to Dr Mugerwa, there are storage challenges since NMS does not have enough space. Statistics from the Ministry of Health and the Uganda Aids Commission show that Uganda needs 20 million condoms every month. Gulu has a high HIV prevalence at about 8.2 percent compared to the national average of 6.4 percent.