Plan to distribute condoms at schools
Share this article:
Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal - The national Department of Health, with consent from parents, is to forge ahead with its plans to distribute condoms at schools.
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said after a meeting of the South African National Aids Council in Pietermaritzburg on Thursday that those opposed to the plan were introducing a “silly debate to a very serious issue”.
Motsoaledi said the distribution of condoms at schools would be done in a responsible manner.
“We are not going to park a truck outside a school and line up children and and say to them ‘come get condoms’.”
He said pupils would be offered counselling as part of the department’s Integrated School Health Programme.
The minister said the matter had been discussed with principals and school governing bodies across the country, and that there was proof that making condoms available to schoolchildren would benefit them.
At one KwaZulu-Natal school, about 60 pregnancies had been reported he said, adding that the number of pregnant pupils fell by half after the first year of distributing condoms.
The idea of condoms at schools has not been well received in some quarters.
The IFP was concerned that it would promote sexual promiscuity among under-aged youth.
“Government seems to have forgotten that the age of sexual consent is 16,” said IFP MP Alfred Mpontshane. “Giving condoms to kids is encouraging them to break the law.”
Basic Education Department spokesman Panyaza Lesufi, said a joint meeting of the departments had resolved that condoms would be distributed to schools, as and when parents’ permission was obtained.
He said his department would however, continue to prioritise promoting abstinence from sex.
Meanwhile, Motsoaledi also announced a government plan to introduce a fixed dose combination (FDC) of anti-retroviral drugs to replace the multi-pill regimen available to HIV-positive people.
HIV-positive people on ARVS would now have to take one tablet, either once or twice a day, rather than the three tablets currently taken.
The minister said FDC would be part of the new ARV tender which comes into effect next year.
Lobby groups, such as the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), have recommended the Health Department include a fixed dose combination on the new tender.
“FDCs make prescribing, dispensing and monitoring treatment easier for nurses and pharmacists. Also, widespread use of FDCs makes ordering and monitoring ARV stocks simpler,” the TAC said.
Motsoaledi said his department had yet to decide on the brand of the FDC drug. -