Bukwo general hospital has run out of condoms. The facility hasn't had condom supplies for close to five months, with the last supply coming in July this year according to the authorities. Empty condom dispensers can be seen hanging around different corners of the hospital.
Some of the dispensers are covered with cobwebs while others are rusting away - a sign of redundancy. Stephen Yeko, one of the youth in Bukwo town, says he has given up on checking for condoms at the general hospital.
"Every time I come here, I don't see any condoms in those containers. I feel these people just want us to die of HIV. When I ask some of the nurses, they tell me to abstain or marry and be faithful to my wife but am still planning my marriage" he said.
Johnson Zakayo, the case manager at the Antiretroviral Treatment (ART) clinic in Bukwo hospital, says none of the health facilities in the district has condoms. He explains that more than ten youth come asking for condoms daily at the facility.
"I was told that there is a countrywide shortage, and it will take some time. For now, we’re using counseling. Abstain or be faithful because if you’re not faithful you’re going to die." said Zakayo.
Condoms are recommended for use in the fight against sexually transmitted diseases such HIV/Aids and unwanted pregnancies. Dr Collins Satya, the acting Bukwo district health officer says the hospital has only had the condom stock out for two months.
He attributes the stock out to the shortage of condoms across the country. He explains that the district is expecting condoms once they are made available from the center.
UPDF launches Ulinzi condoms
In a related development, the Uganda People's Defense Forces (UPDF) has unveiled a new brand of condoms as part of its efforts to fight the HIV scourge. Ulinzi condoms are packed in a digital camouflage pack similar to UPDF uniforms.
The Ulinzi condoms, which are produced in Thailand, were unveiled during the commemoration of the International World AIDS day in Kawempe Division in Kampala on Saturday.
Col Ignatius Wamundu Cassette, the director HIV/Aids in UPDF, says they conducted a study with the help of the Population Services International to come up with a new strategy of fighting HIV/Aids. He said they resolved to produce the Ulinzi condoms after realizing that HIV/Aids have affected several soldiers in the last 30 years.
"We resolved to come up with something different from what is available on the market and decided to produce Ulinzi (Swahili for defense) condoms because it resonates well with soldiers," he said.
According to Col Wamundu, the army plans to distribute 7 million condoms this year and next year to the general public. About 170 million condoms are used in Uganda annually, which means the army will be contributing about 2 per cent of the total condoms required.
Some of the people who received the free condoms distributed by the army, said they were eager to test them to discover the feel behind them. Kawempe Division mayor, Emmanuel Sserunjogi appealed to the public to task government through President Yoweri Museveni and parliament to do enough sensitization.
Hundreds of people who turned for the event received free health services such as family planning, HIV/Aids testing, cervical and breast cancer screening provided by Reproductive Health Uganda, UPDF health team and other HIV/Aids service providers.
Francis Amanya, who led the UPDF health team, said three of the 121 people who turned for HIV testing tested positive. Only six women turned up for breast cancer screening. Rachael Nakagwa, who led the team from Reproductive Health Uganda attributed the miserable turn up on poor sensitization.