Thirty million condoms have been imported into Tanzania to curb any shortage
Thirty million condoms have been imported into Tanzania to curb any shortage, officials have said in September 2019.
According to reports, some guest houses in Dar es Salam, Tanzania’s commercial nerve and tourism hub could no longer give out free condoms partly because they were scarce, making them expensive on the market.
“Some shops are selling condoms for 3,000 Tanzanian shillings ($1; £0.78), 5,000 or 10,000 Tanzanian shillings – depending on the brand. Customers must now have their condoms because we can’t afford to give them out for free,” a hotel worker told BBC Swahili.
Deputy Health Minister Dr. Faustine Ndugulile believed there was no need for the guesthouses to stop providing condoms free of charge for their clients because they are now available.
“We’ve ordered over 30 million condoms. What changed was the distribution model; previously some agencies were distributing the condoms but things have changed and we now have new agencies mandated with distribution.
“What we want to do is to ensure the new model works effectively and that awareness campaigns reach those targeted and condoms become available,” he said.
Two of Tanzania’s populous regions earlier were hit by condom shortage, raising fears of a possible rise in the number of s*xually transmitted infections.
Ndugulile then said the government was aware of the situations in the two regions – Njombe and Shinyala. According to the 2012 census, the regions have a combined population of more than two million people.
Speaking at an orphanage in Dar es Salaam early 2019, Ndugulile said the shortage was caused by the government’s new procurement policy which cuts off private suppliers.
“It is true that there is shortage of condoms, which is attributed to the change of supplying system… However, this signifies that the Tanzanian population are educated enough to use protection,” Ndugulile said.
Tanzania recognized HIV and AIDS as a threat to development and declared it a national disaster in 1990, seven years after the first few cases were described.
In 2018, 1.6 million people were living with HIV in Tanzania, equating to an estimated HIV prevalence of 4.6%. In the same year, 72,000 people were infected with HIV, and 24,000 people died from an AIDS-related illness.
Tanzania’s HIV epidemic is generalized, with pockets of concentrated epidemics among key populations such as people who inject drugs, men who have s*x with men, mobile populations and s*x workers.
Heteros*xual s*x accounts for the vast majority (80%) of all HIV infections in Tanzania and women are particularly affected.
The severity of the epidemic varies across the country. Some regions report an HIV prevalence of around 1.5% (Manyara) while other regions have prevalence as high as 14.8% (Njombe).
Overall, the epidemic has remained steady because of on-going new infections, population growth and increased access to treatment.
In 2018, residents of a Kenyan town, Tanzania’s Northern neighbors reportedly resorted to recycling used condoms due to shortage as they struggle to protect themselves against s*xually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Local newspaper Daily Nation reports that the town called Archer Post has over the years witnessed a hike in s*x trade and due to the shortage of male condoms some men resorted to the use of polythene during s*xual intercourse for protection.
“The spread of HIV and Aids has been worsened by a section of locals who normally wash used male condoms due to its scarcity especially after the government banned the use of polythene carrier bags in 2018,” Daily Nation quoted a resident as saying.
In other related news, hundreds of LGBT activists in Tanzania went into hiding after a senior official announced a taskforce aiming to identify and punish gay people in Dar es Salaam.
Paul Makonda, the city’s administrative head, said he had put together a team of officials and police that would target gay people, who could face lengthy prison sentences, in an intensification of anti-LGBT discrimination.
In an interview posted on YouTube, Makonda called for Tanzanians to report gay people and told a news conference he had already received more than 5,700 messages from the public, including more than 100 names.
One LGBT activist, speaking to the Guardian from Dar es Salaam on condition of anonymity, said: “They are raiding houses. It is a horrible thing. It is just going to get worse. So many people are leaving the city, running away. They are targeting the activists, saying we are promoting homos*xuality. We have to hide.”
Another activist in the city described the atmosphere as “open season on gay people” and reported lists of names being published on social media to “out people. You can imagine what that is doing to people, to families,” he said.
Michelle Bachelet, the UN high commissioner for human rights, said she feared “a witch-hunt [which] could be interpreted as a licence to carry out violence, intimidation, bullying, harassment and discrimination against those perceived to be LGBT”.
In 2016, Tanzania banned nongovernmental organisations from distributing free lube to gay people as part of efforts to control the spread of HIV/Aids, even though some health experts warned shutting down such outreach programmes could put the wider population at higher risk of infection.