By: Justicia Shipena
Health minister Kalumbi Shangula says that access to condoms remains a vital element in the fight against HIV and unintended pregnancies in the country.
Shangula said this during the handover of 150 condom dispensers to the University of Namibia (Unam) in Windhoek.
Speaking during the occasion, Shangula said the installation of condom dispensers in the institutions of higher learning in Khomas is a testimony of the country’s commitment to ensure the end of AIDS in as a public health threat by 2030.
“The National Strategic Framework for HIV and AIDS response 2016/2017-2021/2022 of Namibia has recommended Combination Prevention Approach to mitigate the risk of acquiring or transmitting HIV,” said Shangula.
According to him studies around the world have shown that condom use provides 98% effectiveness against unintended pregnancies, 80% proportionate reduction in HIV seroconversion.
He added that teenage pregnancy in the country, currently stands at 19% and as high as 35% in some regions.
“It is important that we act to ensure promotion of safe sex to curb the further spread of HIV infection and unintended pregnancies,” he said.
The ministry in partnership with UNFPA installed 150 condom dispensers out of the 980 at various higher learning institutions around the country.
Unam pro vice chancellor of finance and administration, Ellen Namhila said the 2019 statistics indicate that two out of every seven new HIV infection were among the young people.
Namhila added that efforts have to be made for people to get comfortable with purchasing condoms at a store.
“We can change the youth’s perception about condom use if we continue to create an environment that facilitates and reinforce condom use by eliminating the cost as well as reducing the embarrassment at obtaining condoms,” she said.
She added that condom availability at the institutions of higher learning is an innovative approach for increasing the usage of condoms among the youth.
“This program can remove barriers to obtaining condoms,” she said.
According to Unam dean of students, Margareth Mainga having condom dispensers on campus does not mean the university is promoting sexual activities.
“But what we are saying is if you do have sex, take proper care of yourself and condom,” said Mainga.
Mainga added the university has programs in place that will make easier for students to understand why they should use condoms.
“We have programs in the hostels. We have arranged pajama parties where we go and sit with them and discuss all these matters with them.”
She further said the programs at Unam are geared towards not only providing the student with a degree but moulding them to become proper graduates.
Speaking to The Villager on Thursday, Mainga said student do drop out because of a lack of financial support from parents once they fall pregnant.
“Sometimes they drop out because of the trauma around it students would decide let me rather go and come back later,” she explained.