health

Sept. 8, 2021

LINEO MABEKEBEKE

3 min read

Lesotho launches branded condoms, lubricants

Lesotho launches branded condoms, lubricants

Director General in the Ministry of Health, Dr ’Nyane Letsie

Story highlights

  • Condoms made more attractive and efficient
  • Meant to reach all sectors of population

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IN a bid to prevent HIV/AIDS and make condoms more attractive for effective and efficient use, Lesotho recently launched the new packaging of branded male and female condoms as well as lubricants labeled Plug ’n Play.

During the launch which was held in Maseru on Saturday, challenges facing condom programming in Lesotho that led to the design of the new condom packaging were highlighted.

These included insufficient access to condoms by youth, key and vulnerable populations.

It also emerged that lubricants do not reach female sex workers and men who have sex with other men.

Then there was also the issue of distrust or dislike of female condoms and low uptake despite promotion efforts due to culture and other socio economic reasons.

The HIV/AIDS Manager in the Ministry of Health, Dr Tapiwa Tarabiswa said to address the challenges, the ministry in collaboration with UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, Key Populations and Youth Representatives undertook a market survey and analysis on the needs of different groups of people, hence the development of a culturally acceptable, attractive and accessible condom designed to cater for different subgroups within the population.

“As we launch the condom, we believe it will go a long way in supporting the country in efforts to further reduce the incidence of HIV and ultimately end AIDS by 2030,” he said.

Dr Tarabiswa said Lesotho has set some key prevention targets including that 90 percent of people aged 15 and over at risk of HIV, have access to a combination of HIV prevention packages and at least 40 million male condoms and one million female condoms and the required number of water based lubricants will be distributed by 2023.

The UNFPA Assistant Representative to Lesotho, Motšelisi Molorane-Moeno said HIV prevention seems to still be falling into cracks due to more emphasis on HIV treatment as part of the country’s investment case.

She said the scope of the response has always been inadequate to address the diverse sources and drivers of the epidemic with limited comprehensive combination prevention packages that can make a significant and recognisable dent in the new infections.

Ms Molorane-Moeno said as a result, there has been slow progress in the prevention of new infections despite the gains that the country has made.

“This has also been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic which has now made us divert some of the attention and financial support to it and the lockdown measures that saw some prevention activities being halted especially at community levels.

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She however, applauded the Government of Lesotho for recognising this oversight by being signatory to the Global Prevention Coalition and further committing to the HIV Prevention 2025 Road Map in the High Level Meeting that was held in June in New York.

“By so doing, the government and all partners have to put emphasis on high impact interventions to be implemented from national, district and community levels to reduce transmission of new infections,” she said.

The Director General in the Ministry of Health, Dr ’Nyane Letsie said Lesotho is part of the International HIV Prevention Coalition having endorsed the Global HIV Prevention Road Map- Lesotho 2020 HIV Prevention Road Map and the recent commitment to accelerate HIV prevention and reduce new infections by 75%.

She said the high HIV prevalence rate combined with unintended pregnancy pose serious challenges to society and have an adverse impact on Lesotho’s scarce resources.

Dr Letsie acknowledged the financial and technical support of UNFPA on the project saying without it, the project would have failed.

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