‘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.

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