The US government yesterday donated 6.9 million condoms and 2.6 million lubricants valued at N$4.3 million to the health ministry to address the reported shortage of the contraceptive in the country.
Executive director in the health ministry Ben Nangombe said condoms are directly responsible for helping the world reach the target of 200 000 or fewer infections by the year
According to the health ministry, 92% of people living with HIV know their status, 99% are on treatment, and 93% of those receiving treatment are virally suppressed, achievements putting the country on track to reach the 95-95-95 targets by 2030.
“The commodities are needed by our communities and it is good to know that they will be dispatched to all 14 regions in the next two weeks. We do not want to hear a situation where people are saying they need condoms and they cannot find them at health facilities,” said Nangombe.
He added that in the past, steps were taken to not only ensure the availability of condoms at healthcare facilities but that the contraceptives are distributed through community facilities like shops, cuca shops and other places.
“The idea is to make sure that these products are available to the people to use them so that we reduce new infection,” informed Nangombe.
He said the handover signifies the culmination of efforts to address Namibia’s need to secure HIV related commodities and to strengthen HIV prevention measures.
US chargé d’affaires Jessica Long said the donation aims to supply the shortage of condoms in the country as condoms continue to be a health sector priority for preventing the spread of HIV.
“These condoms will be distributed to 273 hotspots and 14 pick-up points mainly targeting key populations (KPs) that are not yet supplied by the health ministry. KPs include female sex workers, men who have sex with men and transgender people, who are particularly vulnerable and disproportionately affected by HIV due to high-risk behaviour, marginalisation, stigma, discrimination, violence and criminalisation, all of which contribute to a lack of access to health services,” he highlighted.
The commodities will go to the KP-STAR project, which supports 75 facilities in and around Windhoek, Keetmanshoop, Gobabis, Otjiwarongo, Oshakati, Oshikango, Walvis Bay, Swakopmund, Rundu and Katima Mulilo. In addition to providing condoms, KP-STAR is the only project that distributes lubricants to key populations in Namibia.
General manager of IntraHealth Namibia Lavinia Shikongo said the organisation is leading a consortium of partners made up of key populations led organisations, and other partners to implement the KP-STAR project among key populations.
“The KP-STAR project’s primary target groups are female sex workers, men who have sex with men and transgender individuals, as we know, proper and systematic use of condoms and compatible lubricants is recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO), for all the key populations to prevent sexual transmission of HIV and sexually transmitted infections,” said Shikongo.
She stated that availability, accessibility, affordability, and use of condoms and condom compatible lubricants are an important aspect of the KP-START project.