Condom crisis causes chaos
The lack of condoms currently being experienced in Namibia, especially in the populous northern regions, was yesterday described as a “criminal blunder”, and enough reason for the immediate resignation or dismissal of Health and Social Services Minister Richard Kamwi.
Shebeen owners in the northern towns of Oshakati, Ondangwa, Ongwediva, Oshikango, Eenhana and Outapi say they are overwhelmed by desperate customers looking for condoms that they used to get from those outlets free of charge.
“It has almost been a month and half that we have no condoms in stock,” said a shebeen cashier in the Oneshila settlement of Oshakati.
Natangue Ithete, the Swapo Party Youth League’s Education and Culture secretary, described the current situation as dangerous.
“Let us not lie to ourselves. Most young people are sexually active and for them to have no access to condoms is very risky,” he said.
The deputy secretary of the RDP Youth League, Sam Hamunyela, issued a statement describing the situation as unacceptable.
“There are no more free condoms in most of the State hospitals and public hang-out places such as bars, social clubs and shebeens. This is a very serious problem which needs to be addressed urgently,” he said.
“The popular and free Smile condoms that used to be supplied free of charge in State hospitals and at public places, are no longer available. Even the alternative cheap condoms such as ‘Cool Ryder’ and ‘Sense’ are also nowhere to be found,” said Hamunyela.
According to him the only condoms that are available are expensive, costing between N$20 and N$30 for a packet of three, placing them out of reach of the poor and the unemployed.
Hamunyela is calling on the Ministry of Health to pronounce itself on “this sensitive matter”.
Commenting on the same issue, NamRights’ Steven Mvula said Namibia made significant inroads in the combating and prevention of HIV/AIDS, but the current lack of condoms would undo the achievements of the past years.
“Young people who are already sexually active will not abstain because of lack of condoms. This situation would lead to new infections, re-infections, increase in unwanted and teenage pregnancies that in turn would lead to an increase in baby dumping, school drop-out and domestic violence,” he said.
The worrying shortage in affordable male and female condoms was reported in Namibian Sun last month, when Nasoma, the agency responsible for ensuring the availability, accessibility and affordability of male and female condoms throughout the country, admitted it has run out of condoms.
“There is nothing we can do until we receive funding and right now, we don’t know when that will be,” said Nasoma Acting Director Inge-Marry Shikandala.