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Developing Countries Face a Shortage of Condoms

A new report shows that there is a shortage of condoms being donated from richer countries to poorer countries, with a current supply that is about one tenth of what’s needed, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The report published by Population Action International (PAI), entitled “Condoms Count: Meeting the Need in the Era of HIV/AIDS,” shows that at least 8 billion condoms are needed every year to protect people against the HIV/AIDS epidemic in developing countries and Eastern Europe. According to the UNFPA, less than one billion condoms are distributed annually.

The report also states that the US is falling behind on policy and funding for the global supply of condoms. According the New York Times, the biggest decline in donations was from the US. The US gave the developing world 800 million condoms in 1990 and only 360 million in 2000. On October 16, six House members sent a letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell asking him to reconsider the recent decision to prevent the US Agency for International Development (USAID) from distributing free contraceptives to the Philippines by 2004, according to Kaiser Network. Over the last 11 years, USAID had distributed approximately $40 million in contraceptives to the Philippines. Representatives Joseph Crowley (D-NY), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), James McGovern (D-Mass), Connie Morella (R-MD), Bernard Sanders (I-VT) and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) wrote in the letter that it is “widely documented that proper and consistent use of condoms is the most effective way to safeguard against sexually transmitted diseases” and that “curbing the supply of both contraceptives as well as information on family planning could exacerbate” poverty.

In a move that could cost the lives of tens of thousands of women and children around the globe, President Bush officially withheld $34 million in funds for the UNFPA. Bush’s decision was made based on unsubstantiated claims that the UNFPA supports forced abortions in China. USAID and UNFPA are the two largest sources of condoms for the developing world. Condoms are cheap, reliable, and prevent AIDS and pregnancies. The United Nations has estimated that for every $1 million that was not spent on condoms, there will be 360,000 unwanted pregnancies, 150,000 abortions, 25,000 deaths of children under the age of 5, and 800 maternal deaths, according to the New York Times.

TAKE ACTION Urge Bush to Release UNFPA Funding

LEARN MORE Click here to read women's narratives about barriers or successes in accessing reproductive health and family planning services.

Media Resources: New York Times 10/9/02; Kaiser Network 10/01/02, 10/21/02; 10/8/2002, Population Action International 9/29/02

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