Shortage of free condoms a ‘national health crisis’

World Contraception Day, held annually on September 26 brings little to celebrate this year in BCM given the shortage of government supplied condoms in the metro.

Masimanyane International Women’s Support Centre director Sibongile Vutu said the shortage was a crisis because of the important health safety role that free, government-provided condoms played, especially for women from low-income backgrounds.

“The impacts of this shortage are devastating and we are feeling them already as survivors of rape come to our care centre for treatment and are being told we cannot send them home with any condoms,” Vutu said.

“This is a problem because when you are raped, you are not sure yet if you’ve been infected with any sexually transmitted diseases, especially with HIV.

“The free condoms are for the protection of your sexual partners to ensure nothing is transmitted from you to others.

“But without any condoms, stopping this transmission process is impossible.”

She said the shortage should be declared a national health crisis. Vutu said the organisation was only notified of the shortage this week and no official communication has yet been issued by the department of health, leaving clinics, rape crises centre’s and NGOs stranded. However, she said no official message had been issued from the department and organisations such as Masimanyane were not made aware of the impending shortage beforehand.

The annual worldwide WCD campaign aims to help young people make responsible, healthy and safe choices regarding their sexual and reproductive health.

However, Masimanyane officer Farida Myburgh said this outcome was now compromised given the unavailability of free government-provided condoms.

Myburgh said that without access to free contraception, women now faced the burden of having to buy contraception themselves. However, most did not have the financial means to do so. Myburgh said the absence of contraception annihilated the work organisations such as Masimanyane had done so far to promote safe sex and consent, and would lead to a steep increase in the transmission of diseases.

“Now women can’t even appeal to their rapist to use a condom either because they will not have any on their person,” Myburgh said.

“Condoms protect women’s lives and without them we will be sitting with a huge crisis.”

The condom is the only form of contraceptive that protects against most STIs as well as preventing pregnancy.

In SA, the provision of free condoms has gone a long way in helping curb HIV/Aids.

Some of the most popular types of contraceptive methods include condoms, the oral contraceptive pill, intrauterine device (IUD), the contraceptive injection and diaphragm.

CONDOMLESS CITY: Masimanyane Women’s Rights International said that the city running low on free government supplied contraceptives that could contribute to transmission of diseases PICTURE: SUPPLIED


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