By Gerald Takwara
SOME pharmacies in Bulawayo ran out of condoms and morning-after pills following a spike in the demand over the festive period, it has emerged.
The morning-after pill and condoms are over the counter contraceptives that are available at pharmacies without a doctor’s prescription.
The morning-after pill falls into the category of emergency contraception; an unwanted pregnancy can be avoided with its use. It works by temporarily stopping the ovary from releasing an egg.
Condoms are unique in that they are a barrier method that provides dual protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV as well as unintended pregnancies.
Pharmacists in the second biggest city confirmed the shortages which they attributed to heightened sexual activity as people took a break from work and business for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
According to leading Bulawayo tabloid B-Metro, a nurse at Mpilo Central Hospital said some pharmacies ran out of condoms and morning after pills during the festive season.
“In December condoms and morning after pills are consumed in large numbers to an extent of running out of stock, I think it is because during the Christmas season people tend to be more excited and they become sexually active,” said Felicia Mlauzi, the nurse
Pharmacists also confirmed the shortages which they said are now a regular trend in Bulawayo during that time of the year.
A pharmacist, Caroline Ndlovu, from Executive Pharmacy said: “From my observation for years, I have noticed that in December the uptake of condoms and morning after pills is very high and I think that is caused by the parties and alcohol influence because it will happen that when people are drunk, they end up having unprotected sex and the next thing they will be in pharmacies to get the morning after pills.
“In January the uptake then becomes low because people will be getting back to normality and they are fewer party activities as people will be back to business,” she said.
Another pharmacist, Nothando Peace Ncube of QV Pharmacy said women buy morning after pills because they are not scared of sexual transmitted infections, but pregnancy.
“Morning after pills are the ones being bought mostly in the pharmacy so from my own perspective I have realised that women are afraid of getting pregnant more than getting STIs and HIV.
“But it is possible that they get free condoms from clinics and hospitals,” she said.
“Looking at the rate of morning after pills in 2021, they were just moving fairly because from April to December the average of the moving rate of these was 52 percent,” said Ncube.
A staggering 81 million condoms were distributed in Zimbabwe in 2020 as the UNAids is ensuring that condom use reaches 90 percent and Aids is eradicated by 2030.
These include a total of 79 604 560 male condoms and 1 810 139 female condoms, according to HIV/Aids and TB Director in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr Owen Mugurungi.
Zimbabwe ranks number five in Africa in terms of high HIV prevalence at 12,9 percent and like many countries.