Archive for August, 2012

‘Use and Discard’

Posted: August 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

How careless we can be!

Is there anything we can do before the used-condom becomes as ubiquitous a waste as the plastic bag? Policy makers seem to have reached their ETC point… Those involved in condom social marketing efforts, still ‘sell’ the municipal garbage dump- read open roadside or backstreet dumps- as the best place to dispose used condoms!

The 2008-09 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey—Preliminary Report (KDHS) notes that most sexually active people are aware of the condom as a family planning intervention and as a HIV/Aids prevention method, where ‘three-quarters (75 percent) of women and 81 percent of men aged 15 to 49 years know that people can reduce the risk of contracting the AIDS virus by using condoms every time they have sexual intercourse.

This is correlated by other organizations working in the HIV/Aids and family planning arena. A 2009 position statement by UNAIDS, UNFPA and WHO, states that ‘The male latex condom is the single, most efficient, available technology to reduce the sexual transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections’. High awareness levels however, have not translated into high usage levels.

The final 2008-2009 KDHS report shows percentage condom usage levels  among women aged 15-49 years old who confirmed using condoms every time they have sexual intercourse as;  2.6% of all women; 1.8% of currently married women; 3.4% of sexually active women; 18% of all sexually active unmarried women. Only 0.2% of the sexually active unmarried women report using the female condom.

The UNAIDS position paper further notes that HIV prevention, education and condom promotion must overcome challenges of complex gender and cultural factors; ‘in ways that help overcome social and personal obstacles to their use’.

Kenya has a health care waste management plan-The National Health Care Waste Management Plan 2008-2012. However, this does not address used condoms disposal strategies.

The cactus flower garden and the…

The Ministry of Health has a condom policy- The National Condom Policy and Strategy 2001 – 2005,  that addresses the ‘need for an unambiguous condom policy and strategy [which] became evident when numerous gaps were identified in the areas of co-ordination, supply, and distribution of and access to condoms’; it does not address used condoms disposal strategies either.

The National AIDS and STI Control Program (NASCOP), a unit mandated by the ministry of health to lead ‘Health Sector response to the HIV/AIDS Pandemic and provide the necessary institutional, policy framework and guidelines’ – is equally silent on condom disposal, as their official website reveals.  

While the Kenya National AIDS Strategic Plan 2009/10 – 2012/13 acknowledges that its ‘communication strategy is dedicated to specific cultural practices that promote positive behavior change and discourage negative practices’, it does not address itself to the fact that the condom is unknown as a cultural artifact among many communities in the country and needs to be promoted sensitively for it to be a tool rather than a hindrance in HIV/aids and family planning communication messages.


Risky Sexual Behavior

Posted: August 14, 2012 in Uncategorized
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The Condom…

Circumstances have forced this item of clothing on us, while some of us rudely force it on others through careless disposal.

Its usage is considered one of the most effective behavior change communication (BCC) interventions for HIV/ Aids and family planning programs in the country. It is the third pillar in the popular Abstinence, sexual partner faithfulness and Condom approach (ABC). However, condom usage BCC efforts have a gap – a hygienic, environment friendly and cultural sensitive disposal method.   It is common to see children, especially in poor neighbourhoods ballooning used condoms…

Used condoms are an eye-show and- they are socially offensive.

However, parents who raise children in crowded areas have bigger concerns; they have to contend with fears of possible sexual disease transmission to children due to irresponsible condom disposal methods. Some sexually transmitted diseases like trichomoniasis are caused by protozoa that are ‘highly mobile, and can survive outside of the human body for extended periods of time’

But your child, little sister/brother, niece, nephew are not in danger…or are they?

A condom Shock

Posted: August 9, 2012 in Uncategorized

The children shouted loudly and excitedly, yelping and running after each other; quarreling over busted balloons.  But these were no ordinary balloons; they had ‘tits’. The site of this carnival wasn’t a birthday party, but a dumpsite in one of the low income sections of Ongata Rongai Township.

Curious I moved closer, and then the shock- Condoms! The kids, true to character, were being innovative. Someone had discarded a heap of expired condoms and the kids were having a field day; blowing and popping them like Champagne. There were a few used ones that had been thrown out with the others, but the kids blew into everything happily…

Wrong toy…

Not the kind of story one would love to tell, but it has to be told-

In March 2011 when a local TV station, K24, reported a condom shortage in Kenya that was forcing men to clean the delicate rubber for re-use, health authorities were outraged. The Kenya government responded with an emergency plea to the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief program (PEPFAR) for 45 million condoms while the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) pledged 73 million condoms- Commendable…


In June 2012, Kenyan media houses reported doctors recommending the condom as one of the best contraceptive methods available to those who want to plan their families. It is a physical barrier that does not affect the body’s internal processes; hormone based contraceptives interfere with internal body processes and are a precursor to other serious health problems, infertility being one of the more obvious ones- Something to mull over…

But as we laud the efforts of those crusading against unwanted pregnancies and babies; infertility; sexually transmitted diseases like HIV/AIDS, gonorrhea and even cancers- cervical cancer caused by the sexually transmitted human papilloma virus (HPV) – what are we doing about the used-condom?  Do children have to play with used condoms? How are those 118 million condoms- 45 million from the President’s Fund and 73 from UNFPA- being disposed? What comes to mind when you see or even hear of children who blow into used condoms? Share your views…

Innocent fun?