“You cannot find condoms anywhere at the hospitals, or even at the clinic here at Eenhana.”
These are the words of Sondy Kamanya, a resident of Eenhana in Ohangwena region.
He says community members have to travel to health facilities for free condoms, only to be told the clinics have run out.
This has become a daily occurrence, he says.
“I live very close by and have been randomly passing by to check if they had condoms in stock, but there is always nothing.
When I see there is no box there, I don’t even bother asking the receptionist, because I know it’s pointless,” Kamanya told The Namibian this week.
Some community members say this situation has been ongoing for the past three months, and is putting them at risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV.
Free condoms are normally provided by the Ministry of Health and Social Services at public hospitals and other venues, such as drinking establishments, lodges and hotels.
An Eenhana hospital employee, who spoke to The Namibian on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation, said most people cannot afford to buy condoms.
“Do you think people will use N$30 to buy a pack of condoms? If you look around the streets of Eenhana, you will see every second young girl is pregnant,” the employee said.
Maybe if the health ministry could be consistent with their condom availability and distribution, this would not be a problem,” the employee added.
Eenhana social activist Salomo Elifas said young people in the area engage in heavy alcohol consumption.
“This triggers unsafe sexual behaviour. It really is not safe for the health facilities to have no condoms,” he said.
Elifas said the situation is concerning, because it is not only applicable to Eenhana.
“I can tell you it is the same all over the region. It’s also worth noting that some people are selfish enough to take entire boxes of condoms when they are available because of their connections with staff at the health facilities,” he said.
LENGTHY PROCUREMENT PROCESS
Ohangwena health director John Hango has confirmed that the hospital is faced with an erratic supply of pharmaceuticals, including condoms.
“This is a procurement issue at national level. Procurement is a lengthy process and it hinders quality patient care as it results in a lack of stock. It has to be relooked at,” he said.
The chief medical doctor at Eenhana District Hospital, Ngoni Mutambwe, yesterday said the supply of condoms to the hospital has been erratic over the past three months.
“The ministry over the past three months has been sending one box of condoms every second week, and they finish fast because they are just not enough. We received another box yesterday,” she said.
Executive director of health and social services Ben Nangombe yesterday said: “The ministry continues to provide clinical supplies, pharmaceuticals and other items to improve public health delivery.
“In the fight against sexually transmitted diseases and infections, the ministry emphasises the use of condoms in order to curb infections,” he said.
Nangombe said the ministry this week received a delivery of approximately 72 000 boxes of 144 condoms each, which is equivalent to 10 million condoms.
This will be distributed countrywide, he said.
“This quantity will cover the demand for about seven months, and more deliveries should be expected in the coming weeks,” Nangombe said.
He said the Ohangwena region was only out of stock for one week, and a truck was being loaded for delivery this coming week.