MASVINGO – The price of the popular Protector Plus condoms have risen by 100% in all shops throughout the country following the withdrawal of Pepfra, one of the biggest donor organisations involved in HIV and Aids projects in Zimbabwe.
The Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr David Parirenyatwa confirmed the withdrawal in an interview with The Mirror and said the price increases are worrying and engagements are being made with Global Fund so that there is support for the programme.
The Mirror observed that the price has just shot up from 25c for a pack of four to 50c and analysts expressed concern that in a country where most people are living on a dollar a day, the product is no longer affordable and there are consequences of people getting STIs, HIV and unwanted pregnancies.
An official who declined to be named said the withdrawal by the donor has seen the wholesale price jumping from 5c to 35c per pack.
Pepfra supported PSI with funds to procure condoms.
The condoms are manufactured outside the country and they are distributed by PSI and the Family Planning Council of Zimbabwe.
Although Protector Plus are just the same as panther condoms, they are in higher demand in Zimbabwe because they are branded with better packaging and different flavours.
The shocking increase comes at time when Zimbabwe joined the rest of the World in celebrating World Condoms Day on February 14.
Some of the major retailers who have increased their prices to 50c are OK and Pick and pay.
"The wholesale price has gone up from 5c to 35c. Naturally you can see that retailers were getting the condoms almost for free and making immense profit," said an official who declined to be named.
Herbert Chikosi, an official involved in family planning programmes said the price increases particularly for towns like Masvingo, Gweru and Gwanda which have huge student population that are sexually active would have negative impact.
"If condoms become too expensive there is risk of increased unwanted pregnancies and abortions. It does not make any sense to clamour for a national drive to combat HIV if the tools with which to reduce the epidemic become expensive," said Chikosi.
Zimbabwe consumes about 110 million condoms per year