Condom Procurement and Distribution
- Last Updated on Monday, 21 May 2012 18:54
- Published on Tuesday, 21 February 2012 13:34
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Consistent condom use is an effective way to prevent the spread of HIV, yet universal access to condoms is not yet fully a reality in the Caribbean region due to lack of resources, knowledge or in some cases social support to access condoms.
The Caribbean Social Marketing programme for HIV prevention and the promotion of Sexual and Reproductive Health (CARISMA) has been promoting access to quality, affordable condoms in the region since 2005. CARISMA partners, mainly local Planned Parenthood Associations focus their efforts on special populations, including migrant sex workers, men at risk, batey residents, and young people.
Studies have shown that condom availability to key populations have improved since the inception of the CARISMA project. Previous to this project coming on stream, free condoms were available (and in some cases still are) through Ministries of Health and some NGOs for several years.
The results of three Condom Market studies conducted through the CARISMA Project in 2009-2010 in Belize, the Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, St Maarten and select Eastern Caribbean countries found the following:
• Each country had a unique total condom market structure, with its own challenges and successes in terms of providing access to special populations
• In several countries, maintaining a consistent supply of free condoms to consumers was a challenge because of stock outs and bottlenecks in supply chains
• Despite the development and distribution of the PANCAP Regional Model Condom Policy, not all countries have developed and implemented national policies or strategies on condom distribution
• In all countries studied, routine monitoring and evaluation does not trace whether condoms distributed by government are accessed by special populations (e.g. young people and people on low incomes
• Lack of demand for unbranded free condoms and inefficient distribution systems posed a problem, resulting in risk of stockpiled condoms expiring in central stores and
• Availability of condoms is a challenge for some special populations who are not able to access free condoms if they are distributed in clinics, during daylight hours, or only in central urban areas.
What Is Needed?
The importance of proper condom use for the prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections cannot be overemphasised. In this regard there is a need to:
• Facilitate national consultations on the PANCAP Model Policy and its relevance to the development of National policies. A recent evaluation on the implementation of this policy has revealed that its existence is not well known
• Assist countries to implement national condom policies or strategies
• Revise legislation to favour condom distribution to most at risk populations including sexually active youth under the age of 18
• Remove import duty on condoms. This should result in reduced cost to the user
• Promote enhanced access to condoms over the long term by working with the private sector (e.g. helping to tailor their distribution networks for special populations).
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