Hit by a shortage of condoms in public health services, the Union Cabinet on Thursday will take a call on how to ensure safe sex lives of Indians.
The health ministry wants to procure condoms and other contraceptives from private manufacturers as the sole provider public sector Hindustan Latex Limited has not been able to meet the demand.
The data with the government shows that there is a high demand of condoms in many high fertility states such as Gujarat, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. But, the ministry is unable to meet the demand resulting in drastic reduction in condom allocation to the states in recent years, thereby endangering the gains of family planning programmes and checking the spread of HIV/AIDS.
India’s fertility rate – children born to a woman – has dropped from 3.11 in 2010 to 2.58 in 2012 with sharpest drop witnessed in populous states such as Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Free distribution of condoms through public health centers was said to be a reason for the drop.
The gains could be lost as condom users, especially among the lower strata of society, is falling in India because of low availability of condoms.
The Cabinet in 2005 had directed the health ministry to procure 75% of the installed capacity for production of condoms and other contraceptives from Hindustan Latex Limited every year. Although the capacity of the company to produce contraceptives has increased, it has not been able to meet the demand.
The health ministry has now proposed amendment in the Cabinet decision as it needs to procure higher quantity of condoms, which the company may not be able to provide. So, the ministry wants to buy condoms from private manufacturers if HLL fails to meet the demand. The ministry has proposed that it will procure condoms from private sector on basis of tenders and would try its best to prevent cartelisation.