Just days ahead of International World Aids Day, the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) claims that the country is in the midst of a national shortage of condoms that are supplied to people via health centres, clinics, organisations and other public services.

The organisation, which distributes over one million condoms a month in the Western Cape alone, said in its newsletter on Thursday that for the past two weeks it has experienced difficultly in accessing an adequate supply of condoms.

“Our HIV prevention efforts are currently being undermined by a shortage of condoms which we have now confirmed to be a nation-wide problem,” it claims.

The organisation says that sources from the Department of Health allege that the shortage is due to a delay in awarding the national condom tender which resulted in local suppliers being notified later than expected:

“This delay has resulted in provincial and district stock outs where supply from the last tender has run out and supplies from the new tender have yet to arrive.”

The TAC adds that current stock is expected to last until the third week in December. It is unclear when the normal supply of condoms will resume.

It describes the Department of Health’s release of seven million condoms to provinces in the interim as “woefully inadequate” considering that the normal supply of condoms to all provinces for one month is 33 million.

The organisation has called on national and provincial government to clarify the extent of the shortage and to make interim plans to ensure supplies.

“December is a month of holiday for most South Africans. Getting an adequate supply to individuals before they migrate to family homes and holiday areas is essential,” it said.

The TAC also called for a review of the national and provincial planning for condom procurement and distribution:

“Clear lines of responsibility and a comprehensive condom programme must be established so these errors and their potentially harmful impacts on the sexual health of many South Africans are avoided in the future.”

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