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HEALTH-KENYA: Kenya To Produce Condoms Locally




 

NAIROBI, Feb 21 (IPS) - Kenya will soon have its own condom factory - a joint venture between a local company, Olag Enterprises, and the German CONDOMI AG, one of the world's largest condom manufacturing companies.

The project is supported by the German Development Bank (DEG) within its public private partnership programme in line with the bilateral government policies of the two countries.

Dubbed CONDOMI Health Kenya, the new company will be located in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, and is expected to have a capacity of 100 million condoms per year, with an initial investment of about 2,5 million US Dollars. The local condom demand is expected to reach 650 million pieces by the end of 2003.

Besides the production of condoms, the organisation says it will launch intensive education programmes and communication activities geared at changing attitudes and behaviour towards condom usage.

"The joint venture will manufacture high quality condoms that are affordable, accessible, suitable and acceptable to the local population," says Dr. Patrick Mbeo, of Olago Enterprises, Condomi's local partner.

"With our joint company, we plan to aggressively market our products in Kenya, as well as in the neighbouring countries to locally provide the right products for all AIDS prevention efforts," Condomi's director, Oliver Gothe, said in a recent press statement.

He said the condom factory was strategically placed in a country which loses an average of 500 people daily to the deadly HIV/AIDS scourge.

Last year President Daniel arap Moi declared HIV/AIDS a national disaster. Official estimates on condom use in Kenya say demand has increased by more than 250 percent during the last three years and predict a further rise as a result of the recently changed government policies on HIV/AIDS.

Moi, a devout Christian, initially was reported to be opposed to the promotion of condom use. However, analysts say he recently softened his stance on the issue recognising the shocking HIV/AIDS statistics in the East African country. The threat of AIDS must not be treated casually, in today's world, condoms are a must," he said recently in one of his nationally televised speeches.

Official statistics say two million of Africa's 21 million AIDS sufferers live in Kenya, a devastation greater than the conflicts afflicting the continent. With more than 70 percent of hospital beds occupied by AIDS patients, the epidemic has also reportedly taken a silent, but heavy toll on Kenya's professionals, scholars and school teenagers.

A new government report on AIDS warns of an increase in the number of sufferers from the current 10 percent of the population of 30 million to 15 percent by 2005, if no practical measures are taken to curb the current trend.

The report, "AIDS In Kenya: Background, Projections, Impact and Interventions Policy" says the number of children orphaned by AIDS may shoot up to 860, 000 from the current 600, 000 by the end of this year.

The HIV crisis in Kenya has brought home the reality to the Kenyan government, which has launched a massive campaign to halt a further spread of the disease and is seeking bilateral support for research into a vaccine.

The proposed condom factory has been backed by the AIDS non governmental organisations who say the new project will boost condom distribution in the East African country.

"All along, we have been importing condoms and there has been a lot of controversy over their quality, and ability to protect," says Esther Gatua, a programme officer with the Kenya Aids NGO consortium, the umbrella of all AIDS organisations in Kenya.

She says the locally manufactured condoms will not only reduce the cost to consumers but it would also be easier to monitor their quality control through relevant government bodies. (END/IPS/ja/sm/00)



 


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Information in this article was accurate in February 21, 2000. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.