•“There is a need to strengthen the private sector to increase the market share for socially marketed condoms to ensure a sustainable condom programme,” she said.
•Despite being one of the key prevention pillars, condom use remains low in Kenya at only 14.6 condoms per man per year against the global target of 40 condoms per man per year.
The agency in charge of coordinating Kenya’s HIV and Aids response is rooting for the purchase and use of low-priced condoms to bridge the shortage caused by the declining supply of free commodities in the country.
National Syndemic Diseases Control Council chief executive officer Dr Ruth Laibon-Masha said the country was facing a financing gap for condoms, which could threaten gains made under the sustained HIV prevention programme.
Enhanced individual purchases, coupled with the available free condoms, will constitute the “total market approach” that will promote access and consequently correct condom use patterns, Dr Masha told the 7th Maisha Conference which ended in Mombasa on Thursday.
“We are determined to ensure every segment of society can access condoms that they can afford including those provided at no cost to members of the public,” she said at the meeting that attracted more than 1,000 participants.
Health experts say a wholistic market approach will boost access and encourage condom use to Kenyans of all walks of life.
The total market approach, Dr Masha said, had been successfully implemented in Nigeria where socially marketed condoms account for 60 per cent of the market compared to 14 per cent in Kenya.
“There is a need to strengthen the private sector to increase the market share for socially marketed condoms to ensure a sustainable condom programme,” she said.
A survey carried out by AIDSFree WTP Study showed that in both Kenya and Nigeria, 70 per cent of condom users were willing to purchase condoms if the commodities were not available. Despite being one of the key prevention pillars, condom use remains low in Kenya at only 14.6 condoms per man per year against the global target of 40 condoms per man per year, Dr Masha said.
An analysis carried out in 2021 showed an estimated resource gap of Sh803,235,120 (71.9 per cent ) against an annual requirement of Sh1,117,850,400 for the Kenya condom programme, which heavily relies on external funding. Correct and consistent condom use provides up to 95 % protection against HIV, other STIs, and unintended pregnancy.
At least 1.4 million Kenyans are living with HIV in Kenya. Dr Masha said Kenya requires 424 million male condoms, translating to 40 condoms per male annually. Data from the National Condom Situation report by NSDCC, 190 million male condoms were distributed in 2021 against a need of 424 million male condoms.
About three million female condoms were distributed in 2021 against a need of eight million female condoms. Only 45 per cent of men aged 15 to 49 reported using condoms, at their last high-risk sex, against 24 per cent of women, according to the 2021 data.
Currently, the country is facing a shortage of free condoms following a decline of donor support to the supply of the commodities. “With limited resources, there is need to make those who can buy to prioritise condoms as an effective tool for triple prevention,” Dr Masha said.
To ensure every sexually active person in Kenya has access to a sustained supply of quality condoms, correct knowledge, skills and motivation to use them correctly and consistently to prevent transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancies was needed, Dr Masha said.
The National Syndemic Diseases Control Council, Dr Masha said, has increased access by conducting a mapping of potential or existing condom distribution points.The use of condoms also prevents infections and reinfections among people living with HIV.