The government has made an emergency request for more than 100 million condoms to plug a gap that has been created by an unexpected surge in their use, the Nation has learnt.
The figure comprises 100 million male and 1.8 million female condoms.
In an in-house update, the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation says condom use in the country has recently increased from 10 million pieces to 15 million pieces per month.
“We have requested the United Nations Population Fund to utilise part of some $12 million (Sh960 million) allocated by the World Bank for the procurement of condoms in the next four years to address the new demand,” Dr Nicholas Muraguri, head of the National Aids and STD Control Programme, told the Nation.
The surge has been attributed to higher condom acceptance among unmarried youths and use of prostitutes’ networks for distribution.
“Condom use by young men ‘at last sex with a casual partner’ has shown strong and steady progress, increasing from 52 per cent in 2003 to 69 per cent in 2007,” says the ministry update.
While there has been a positive change in risky behaviour among youths, it is the older generation that is giving the ministry officials sleepless nights.
“The biggest problem right now is to make people in long-term extra-marital relationships adopt the use of condoms as research shows that this segment has the highest HIV transmission rates,” Dr Muraguri said.
With the increased demand for condoms, he said, many manufacturers were expected to market their products in Kenya.
“To prepare for this possible influx, the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation has procured a machine for testing the quality of condoms. We will sample condoms from various outlets for tests to ensure that they maintain quality as specified in the standards as recommended by the World Health Organisation,” he said.
The government is also rolling out a campaign to promote condom use for disease and pregnancy protection in Nairobi, Nyanza and Coast provinces.
The programme will also introduce new types of condom dispensers to be placed in strategic places such as pubs, lodgings and clinics.