Current statistics from the Population Survey International (PSI) indicates that Rwanda imports about 14 million condoms annually.
Speaking at a press conference after the launch of last phase of Witegereza campaign, the National Coordinator PSI Rwanda, Staci Leischner, said that out of the 14 million condoms, eleven million condoms are supplied to the private sector while three million condoms go to the public sector.
She also said that the number of imported condoms increase as their availability also increases.
She however said that Rwanda has the lowest rate of condom use in the region mostly because of stigma and its unavailability in remote areas.
The Deputy Executive Secretary of National Aids Control Commission (CNLS), Antoine Semukanya, said that condoms are mostly consumed in villages.
“People in villages are complaining that the condoms we supply are not enough; that is why we continue increasing our imports to meet the demand,” Semukanya said.
The Minister of Health Dr. Jean Damascene Ntawukuriryayo, who retained his cabinet portfolio in last Friday’s reshuffle, said that every Rwandan should be educated on condom use so as to have a society free from HIV/Aids.
“Buying a condom shouldn’t be a shame to anyone. I personally supply condoms to whoever comes in my office; I have them and I give them out for free,” he said.
He added that condoms reduce the spread of HIV/Aids and premature pregnancy.
“The statistics I have indicate that about 100 students at the National University of Rwanda (UNR) get unprepared for pregnancies each year and 20 percent of patients in Kigali hospitals are suffering from sexually transmitted diseases,” he said.
Witegereza campaign is targeting at increasing awareness among the youth about condom use and reproductive health issues in general.
The launch of the campaign’s last phase at Hotel Novotel Umubano took place on Monday.
According to a statement, the last phase will run under the theme: ‘Teach Me How to Use a Condom’ – the fourth theme since the campaign started last year.
The campaign targets mainly radio stations and has erected about 200 billboards around the country which will run for six months.
Previous themes included one calling on parents to educate their children about HIV infection before they become sexually active which was launched last October, then followed by ‘Talk to Me About Sex’ and ‘No Means No’. These two emphasized on youth abstinence from sex, and were launched in November, 2007, and February, 2008, respectively.
Ntawukuriryayo said that the campaign is all about saving lives and preventing the youths from acquiring the Aids virus.
“Though we are launching this campaign of teaching our children about condom use, there are also some parents out there who equally need more knowledge on how a condom is used,” the minister said.
He defended the campaign saying: “This campaign doesn’t mean that we are putting abstinence off; abstinence is the first priority but when one cannot abstain, the condom is the next option.”
Without giving details, the minister said that research indicated that teaching young people about condom use as a component of prevention might increase abstinence.
CNLS Executive Secretary Dr Agnes Binagwaho said that the previous messages made a great impact in the society and that her institution is looking at how to carry on with such campaigns even after Witegereza project.