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SOUTH AFRICA: Condom stockouts threaten prevention efforts

Clinics have been experiencing condom stock-outs for several weeks
Johannesburg, 6 July 2009 (PlusNews) - AIDS activists have reported that public health facilities in South Africa's Free State Province are experiencing serious shortages of condoms, with some clinics reporting complete stockouts.

Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), an AIDS lobby group, contacted 41 out of 351 clinics in the province: four reported shortages of condoms and 11 said they had none at all. One clinic in the provincial capital, Bloemfontein, said the depot that normally supplied them with condoms had run out.

Free State attracted controversy in November 2008 after the provincial health budget had been overspent to such an extent that the authorities stopped initiating HIV-positive patients on antiretroviral (ARV) treatment.

The moratorium lasted for three months, during which 30 people a day died because they could not obtain medication, according to estimates by the Southern African HIV Clinicians Society.

Although no official explanation has been given for the condom supply problem, the national department of health blamed a countrywide shortage in December 2008 on a delay in awarding a new tender.

Rebecca Hodes of the TAC speculated that the delay might still be affecting supply; the TAC used to receive about one million condoms a month from the health department for distribution, but could now only get hold of about half that.

"This is not particular to the Free State," she added. "There are stockouts in all six provinces where we have branches." She also blamed a severe shortage of human resources, weak distribution networks and budget shortages.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced in his budget speech to parliament last week that the department intended increasing its national distribution of male condoms from 283 million to 450 million in the 2009/10 financial year. The quantity of more expensive female condoms would increase by half a million to five million.


Theme (s): HIV/AIDS (PlusNews), Prevention - PlusNews,

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