Many condom vending machines at city hotspots and lodges are either run down or idle, signalling the possibility that Kigali could be short of the HIV preventive gadgets.
In a mini-survey by The New Times, some hotspots were found with faulty vending machines, others without condoms.
A popular area nicknamed ‘Sodom’ in Gikondo is one of the places where the ‘scarcity’ of condoms is being felt.
A manager at Tic-tac Lodge, Gikondo, who preferred anonymity, said the machine there is filled once in awhile.
“It’s been over three weeks since we last had condoms in the machine,” the source said.
Alex Rugerinyangye, an employee at Escada Lodge in Gikondo, said some lodges have vending machines but their stock is inconsistent.
When The New Times visited, last week, there was only one batch of condom at Escada Lodge.
Andrew G. Ntwali, the national programmes officer in-charge of HIV, comprehensive condom programmes at the UNPopulation Fund, said the condom vending machines were introduced under a public private-partnership initiative to increase access to and availability of condoms.
Ntwali said the Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) provides oversight for coordination of different strategies, while implementing the strategies is a shared responsibility by various stakeholders.
This initiative, he said, calls for joint efforts by stakeholders, including the private sector, the social marketing sector (which provides condom brands at a subsidised price) and outlets (hotspots) owners.
“RBC installed the machines with the support of other partners, including the Society for Family Health, which provided the initial stock of condoms,” he said.
PSI initially installed about 60 vending machines in several hotspots in Kigali and recently installed 690 more across the country, he said.
Cyrus Ntaganira, of the Society for Family Health, said their role is now to ensure that owners of hotspots know where to find wholesalers.
“We have distributed 2,673,057 condoms via social marketing between January and March 2013.However, the owners of hotspots have to demonstrate responsibility for their clients and keep re-stocking condoms in the vending machines,” he said.