In Ethiopia, soaring condom prices raise fears of a health problem

This is probably the most dramatic increase seen in Ethiopia. In one month, the price of condoms has quadrupled against a backdrop of shortages, reports the Ethiopian news site The Reporter. In a country where 30% of the population lived on less than 2 euros a day in 2015, according to the World Bank, the contraceptive now costs nearly 75 euro cents per unit in some pharmacies. Many fear that poorer residents, already facing rising staple food prices, will turn away from it and put their health at risk.

The depreciation of the birr, whose value against the dollar fell by 25.5% between December 2020 and December 2021, led to an increase in the cost of condoms. But some professionals also criticize the government for not stabilizing the market by ensuring the continuity of deliveries itself. The Reporter does not fail to specify that the central power had closed the federal agency in charge of the fight against AIDS last year.

“This shortage [] comes at a time when the authorities are already fearing a resurgence of HIV infections, because the population is still neglecting the means of prevention. Nearly 1% of Ethiopians have AIDS, and in the capital the prevalence rate is as high as 4%.

The shortage is particularly severe in the north of the country, where fighting continues with Tigrayan rebels despite the ceasefire announced in March. “Since the government stopped delivering condoms to the region four years ago, international organizations have inherited the task. But they stopped distributing condoms when the fighting started,” in November 2020, alarmed Wudineh Geremew, director of the AIDS prevention program at the Amhara region health office.

General inflation on food products

In addition to the depreciation of the birr, Ethiopia is bearing the full brunt of inflation resulting from the internal conflict and the war in Ukraine. “Over the past year, inflation has been climbing at a rate rarely seen in the past”, worries The Reporter in an analytical article. In March, food prices rose 43.4%.

In an attempt to slow soaring prices, Ethiopian Finance Minister Eyob Tekalign announced last month the opening of the retail sector to international competition. A measure which he hopes will “will bring you to reason” sellers tempted to take advantage of the crisis to maximize their profits.

Leave a Reply