Caracas, February 23, 2015 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – The Venezuelan Health Ministry announced on Friday that the National Public Health System will distribute 18 million condoms for men and women free of charge over the course of 2015.
The move comes amidst artificial scarcities of contraceptives generated by private producers and distributors as part of an economic war against the government of Nicolas Maduro.
Health Ministry Announces "Guarantee of a Safe Sexual Relationship" for Sexually-Active Citizens
Vice-Minister for Collective Health Networks Claudia Morón declared that the anti-contraceptives will be made freely available to all citizens via clinics, NGOs, and educational institutions in a national effort coordinated by the National HIV/AIDS Program and the Program of Sexual and Reproductive Health, which are projects of the Ministry of Health.
By the end of the month, 12,600,000 male condoms will arrive in the country and be made available for distribution, joining the 6 million female condoms already in stock. All condoms were acquired via the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and meet the standards set out by the World Health Organization and the Pan-American Health Organization.
In addition to condoms, Morón also indicated that the government was taking steps to ensure the availability of birth control pills in the network of public clinics managed by the National Public Health System.
The Vice-Minister went on to emphasize that the latest measures guaranteed "a safe sexual relationship" for the sexually active population of the nation.
Government Breaks New Ground in Contraceptive Provision in Face of Economic War
This announced move on the part of the government comes in the midst of an ever intensifying economic war that has seen condoms, like many other everyday items, become increasingly unavailable due to hoarding by private retailers.
The scarcity of condoms in particular has been widely reported in the private international media with a high profile Bloomberg article earlier this month suggesting that the price of a 32-pack of Trojans now exceeds $755.
Despite the report's claims, a pack of 3 Durex condoms in Venezuela currently fetch a retail price of between 100-300 Bolivars (US$8-26). A price which, although expensive, is not beyond the purchasing capacity of ordinary Venezuelans.
Nonetheless, condom shortages pose a serious problem, especially in the context of teen pregnancy and HIV/AIDS rates that remain relatively high by regional standards.
In the face of these challenges, the Bolivarian government has sought to break new ground over the past year by expanding its commitment to public sexual health. Last year, the Ministry of Health distributed over 17 million condoms for men and over 2 million for women.
Moreover, apart from condoms and birth control pills, the Ministry of Health also guarantees access to six other anti-contraceptive methods. Venezuela is the only country in the region to exceed the international standards that mandate a minimum availability of five anti-contraceptive options.