Saturday, December 3, 2022

PSI struggles to get sponsors for 2012

Population Services International (PSI) Botswana┬á could┬á fail┬á to┬á secure┬á P9┬á million┬á funding ┬áfor┬á next┬á year’s┬á projects┬áfollowing┬á the┬á departure┬á from the country of┬á the main┬á sponsor,┬áthe Royal┬á Netherlands┬á Embassy,┬á and┬á┬á many┬á other ┬á┬ádonor┬á agencies.

The  sole  supplier  of  condoms  in  the  country,  PSI is  spearheading  the  Lovers  Plus  project,  which  annually  distributes  around  6  million  condoms  across  the  country.  
 
The┬á NGO’s┬á main┬á challenge┬á in┬á attracting┬á donor┬á agencies┬á is┬á the┬á recently-acquired┬á middle┬á income┬á status┬á by┬á this┬á country.┬á The┬á situation┬á┬á┬á is┬á encouraging┬á┬á┬á donors┬á to┬á depart┬á and┬á focus┬á on┬á priority┬á countries┬á with┬á low┬á income┬á status┬á as┬á their┬á mandates┬á dictate.

The┬á Executive┬á Director┬á of┬á the┬á NGO,┬á Richard┬á Harrison,┬á said that the┬á supply┬á of┬á condoms┬á in┬á the┬á country┬á would┬á be┬á seriously┬á affected┬á should┬á they┬á fail┬á to┬á find┬á funding┬á for┬á Lovers Plus┬á project,┬á as┬á PSI’s┬á sponsorship┬á agreement┬á with┬á Royal┬á Netherlands┬á comes┬á to┬á an┬á end┬á by┬á December.

┬áHarrison┬á said┬á if┬á no┬á donors┬á come┬á to┬á their┬á rescue, it’s┬á going┬á to┬á be┬á hard┬á for┬á them┬á to┬á pay┬á for┬á delivery┬á of┬á condoms┬á next┬á year. ┬áHe┬á said┬á this┬á will┬á force┬á them┬á to┬á ┬áhalt┬á the┬á distribution┬á of┬á 3┬á million┬á non┬á commercial┬á condoms ┬á┬áfor┬á the┬á NGO┬á to┬á survive.┬á

The  close  down will  limit  accessibility  to  freely-provided government-issued  condoms provided  in  non  sales  outlets, such  as  public  health  facilities  as  coverage  will  be  less.  The  Executive  Director  said   35 percent  of  the  population,  which  depends  on  the  condoms,  will  be  much  affected.

He  added  that  for  them  to  also  achieve  sustainability  of  Lovers  Plus  project  without  sponsorship,  an  increase  in  prices  of  commercial   condom   brands  such  as  Lovers  Plus,  flavoured,   plain  and  skwata  will  be  the  only  option.  This  will  enable  them  meet  the  costs  of  the  project,  which  uses  private-sector marketing strategies to increase demand for and access to attractively packaged   male condoms  sold  at  filling  stations,  bars  and  hotels.   

Meanwhile,  he  assured  the  public  that  the  increase  in  prices  will ensure  that  product  affordability  continues.

Since  1992,  PSI/Botswana  has  been  involved  in  HIV prevention projects, which promote  condoms  and contribute significantly to the national response to HIV  in  the  country. 

Harrison  said  it  is  unfortunate  that  changes  in  the  projects  came   at  a  time  when  Botswana  is  trying  hard  to  reduce  the  high  prevalence  rate.  The  rate  has  been  leveling  off  at  17  percent  since  2004.  This  means  17  percent  of  the  population  aged  18  months  and  above  are  HIV  positive.

Apart  from  Lovers  Plus  project  PSI/Botswana  has  implemented   innovations such as  HIV/AIDS  counselling and testing, male circumcision, targeted communication for concurrent sexual partnerships, and injection drug use interventions.

Efforts  to  interview  the  Ministry  of  Health  regarding  the  distribution  of  government -issued  condoms  were  futile  as  the  Director  of  Department  of  HIV/AIDS  and  Prevention,  Dr.  Marea  Anderson,  is  out of  the  country. 

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