BY FARAI MATIASHE/PHYLLIS MBANJE
THE Population Services International (PSI) Zimbabwe has hiked prices of its condoms, which will see the retail price of the contraceptive going up by over 100% with effect from this month.
The move will disenfranchise ordinary citizens who are already struggling to make ends meet and fears abound that the country will witness a spike in unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) as well as HIV spread.
In a memo seen by NewsDay, consumers will be buying a three-pack packet of condoms for $6.
“Please note that prices of Protector Plus condoms have gone up effective August 1, 2019,” the memo reads.
Before the sharp increase, Protector Plus condoms, which comes in various flavours including strawberry, banana and vanilla, were selling between $2 and $3 in most retail outlets around the country.
In a country where prices of everything have been going up, it is no surprise that the condom prices have also followed suit.
Meanwhile, a serious shortage of condoms and contraceptives in Zvimba district and other areas in Mashonaland West has fuelled concerns of unwanted pregnancies and STIs. For the past few months, many areas in the district have gone without the male condom and contraceptives, which are all key in stemming spread of the STIs and unwanted pregnancies.
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Authorities are currently battling to mobilise the condoms and contraceptives from other provinces.
Worst affected are growth points, where a sizeable population meet for fun and pleasure.
Zvimba district medical officer Terence Dandadzi confirmed the shortages in the district.
“We have facilities with shortages, but we are mobilising from other districts,” he said.
Mashonaland West provincial medical director Wenceslaus Nyamayaro said they had been advised to liaise with colleagues in other districts within the province and share what is available.
Contraceptive shortages have become a national challenge, with several areas around the country experiencing similar problems.
In April this year, public health institutions in Matabeleland North and South provinces ran out of contraceptives, leaving most women stranded because they could not afford the high prices charged by private pharmacies.
Director of family health in the Health ministry, Bernard Madzima, at the time said while for the whole country they had stock of most forms of contraceptives for five months, Matabeleland was experiencing some problems, which they attributed to challenges in the distribution hain.
There have been claims that the shipment carrying the contraceptives was damaged while on its way from India last year and so they had to wait for another consignment.
“It is disappointing that sexual reproductive health rights are under threat yet Zimbabwe has made tremendous progress in addressing family planning challenges and gaps,” Fungisayi Dube, of the Citizens Health Watch, said.
Dube added that women would be the most affected.
“Unwanted and unplanned pregnancies will increase, leading to backyard abortions. The government should take these shortages seriously and put women’s lives and health first, for once,” she said.