The Gauteng Department of Health is experiencing a shortage of male condoms yet no one wants to touch female condoms that are in abundance.
From reason such that they take too long to insert and that they are not user friendly, female condoms are not the preferred method for many sexually active people according to the department's Philani Mhlungu.
While the department is scrambling around to ensure that suppliers deliver condoms, Mhlungu said they have a consistent supply of female condoms.
"Poor demand generation contributed to the low up-take for female condoms. Based on informal interviews with the public, female condoms were said to be “not user friendly”, “time consuming to insert”, and “prefer males to use a condom”, to name a few.
"Following a demand generation workshop held in October and November 2019, the province has seen a gradual improvement in distribution. More training is planned for March 2020," he said.
This comes after the DA's Jack Blooms revealed that the department was failing "dismally" to distribute condoms to prevent HIV/Aids infection.
Bloom said only 91 million out of the target of 165 million male condoms had been distributed and only 2.7 million out of the target of 4.1 million female condoms.
"The reason given for missing the target for female condoms is that 'Uptake of female condoms is still low'. More work needs to be done to promote and market the condom,” Bloom said, adding that the situation was problematic as about 50 000 people still get infected with HIV in Gauteng every year.
Mhlungu admitted that they had challenges with condom distribution because of suppliers who could not meet demand.
He said that in the third quarter for 2019-2020 they ordered 85 323 600 condoms.
"This was to cover the Gauteng Department of Health in terms of distributing 55 000 000 pieces targeted for the quarter. Of the 10 suppliers, only three were able to deliver stock for Quarter 3, which was completed in January 2020.
"The reason for non-delivery was due to suppliers not having sufficient supplies to meet the demand. This was said to have been caused by the South African Bureau of Standards processes that prolonged supplies from the manufacturers to the suppliers, to the province."
Mhlungu said this inconsistency in the supply of male condoms was a problem dating as far back as October 2018. He said National Treasury awarded tenders to 30 suppliers for male and female condoms and lubricants to the Department of Health from 01 October 2018 to 30 September 2021.
"Each supplier was allocated different scented condoms/natural lubricant with different prices for male and female condoms and lubricants to be delivered, that is vanilla, strawberry, grape and banana."
He said specifically, for quarter 3, Medproc, Endomed and Promed provided the male condoms.
Medproc on the other hand, he said, supplied the female condom.
Mhlungu said the situation was under control now due to the intervention of Treasury.
– The Star