Shortage of condoms will erode HIV prevention gains – Health Actors

Members of the Non-State Actors (NSA) in Health, a civil society advocacy platform, has claimed that there are current shortages of condoms in the country and that can seriously erode the gains in the fight of HIV and AIDS. 

“If we are talking about HIV prevention, condom is very key, and lubricants as well. You can’t talk about prevention without these”, Mrs Cecilia Senoo, President of NSA told the Ghana News Agency during a briefing on the side-lines of the first general meeting of the NSA held recently in Accra.

She alleged that checks by some NSA members with the Ghana Health Service had revealed that there were shortages of condoms, especially in the regional health facilities, and those few ones who had the condoms were selling them at exorbitant prices that people couldn’t afford.

“This means that people in the communities cannot have access to condoms which negatively impacted on universal health coverage that ensures that health financing should not be a barrier to accessing quality health care services”.

Mrs Senoo, who is also the Executive Director of Hope for Future Generations (HFFG), an NGO, said the NSA was worried that the country might lose the gains made so far in the prevention of HIV and AIDS, saying: “People are going back and we are losing our gains. Now nobody is talking about HIV prevention”.

“HIV is rising because prevention is relegated to the background. Nobody is talking about it, she alleged.

“We need to ensure that there is condom investment in HIV prevention,” she advised.

 Mrs Senoo noted that government counterpart funding of 15 per cent of GDP to the health sector had also not been forth coming and that had been a big challenge to the sector, against the background that many donors, including Gavi were redrawing their assistance to many countries.

“Very soon there will not be GAVI and immunisation of children will suffer. We also have nutrition problems among children, HIV drugs are getting short, TB drugs are facing shortages, so what are we doing about these?” she queried. 

She said Government was supposed to put in resources before others come on board and if government failed to honour such commitments, then the health of the people would be at stake. 

Mrs Senoo said Ghana was far below committing to the 15 per cent Abuja declaration for health and that successive governments kept committing on paper but the actual resources did not trickle down to the sector.

She said there was also periodic shortages of Anti retroviral (ARVs) and currently the paediatric liquid ARV were facing shortages and so children were now taking ARV tablets. 

Mrs Senoo said the NSA had planned as on outcome of the general meeting, to use its advocacy agenda to engage government on various platforms to discuss its commitment towards health.

NSA is made up of civil society organisations, community and traditional leaders, private sector patient groups looking at issues affecting the health sector and advocating for the gaps to be bridged to ensure a better health for Ghanaians.

 It serves as a strong voice for communities and Ghanaians.   

Meanwhile, officials from the GHS have refuted the claim that there were condom shortages in the country, confirming rather that there were enough stock of condoms that could last till the end of the year.

The official said there were also other forms of contraceptives including Copper-T used by women to prevent pregnancies that could also last for 22 more months.

In a related development, officials from the Ministry of Health, led by Mr Joe Dodoo, Deputy Head in charge of Policy, used the occasion to brief the NSA membership about the new National Health Policy being formulated by the state, and requested the NSA should submit their inputs to the Ministry for onward addition to the main policy.

Source: GNA

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