Members of the Non-State Actors (NSA) in health, a civil society advocacy platform, have claimed that the current shortage of condoms in the country could seriously erode the gains made in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
“If we are talking about HIV prevention, condom is very key and lubricants as well. You can’t talk about prevention without these,” Cecilia Senoo, President of NSA, told Ghana News Agency during a briefing on the sidelines of the first general meeting of the NSA held recently in Accra.
She alleged that checks by some NSA members with the Ghana Health Service revealed that there is shortage of condoms, especially in the regional health facilities, and those few ones who have the condoms are selling them at exorbitant prices that people cannot afford.
“This means that people in the communities cannot have access to condoms which negatively impact on universal health coverage that ensures that health financing should not be a barrier to accessing quality health care services.”
Mrs Senoo, who is also the Executive Director of Hope for Future Generations (HFFG), an NGO, said NSA is worried that the gains made so far in the prevention of HIV and AIDS in the country could be eroded, saying, “People are going back and now nobody is talking about HIV prevention.”
“HIV is rising because prevention is relegated to the background. Nobody is talking about it. We need to ensure that there is condom investment in HIV prevention,” she said.
Mrs Senoo stated that government counterpart funding of 15 percent of GDP to the health sector has also not been forthcoming, and that has been a big challenge to the sector against the background that many donors, including GAVI, were withdrawing their assistance to many countries.
“Very soon there will not be GAVI and immunisation of children will suffer. We also have nutrition problems among children, HIV and TB drugs are in short supply, so what are we doing about these?” she queried.
Mrs Senoo said Ghana has not met the 15 percent Abuja Declaration for Health and that successive governments keep committing on paper but the actual resources do not trickle down to the sector.
There are also periodic shortages of Anti retroviral (ARVs), and currently the paediatric liquid ARV was in short supply and so children were now taking ARV tablets, she said.
Mrs Senoo said NSA has planned to engage government on various platforms to discuss its commitment towards health.
NSA is made up of civil society organisations, community and traditional leaders, private sector patient groups that look at issues affecting the health sector and advocating for the gaps to be bridged to ensure better health for Ghanaians.
It serves as a strong voice for communities and Ghanaians.
Meanwhile, officials from the GHS have refuted claims of shortage of condoms in the country.
The official said there are also other forms of contraceptives, including Copper-T, used by women to prevent pregnancies that could also last for 22 more months.
In a related development, officials from the Ministry of Health, led by Joe Dodoo, Deputy Head in-charge of Policy, used the occasion to brief the NSA membership about the new National Health Policy being formulated by the state, and asked NSA to submit its inputs to the ministry to be incorporated into the main policy.