A Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) official has appealed to fiscal authorities to remove Value Added Tax and import duty on condoms to make them affordable to end users.
Addressing an Advocacy Meeting to Discuss Bottlenecks Affecting the Condom Market in Zimbabwe, Dr Owen Mugurungi, the Director of AIDS and TB Unit in the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) said dwindling donor support is forcing government to import its own condoms to continue HIV prevention initiatives.
“We had a meeting today with the members of parliament so that we can give an insight into the challenges and barriers that we face in terms of the importation of condoms in this country. Remember, condoms are a very critical component in our HIV prevention. They are highly effective if used correctly and consistently.
“One of the issues that we have faced over the years is issues around import duty and VAT. With dwindling donor support, the country really needs to step up and start importing its own condoms and the private sector has a role to play. Therefore, we need to make sure that we reduce the duties and VAT that is payable so that at the end of the day, the price is affordable for the end user,” said Dr Mugurungi.
“I am glad that members of Parliament and senate were present in their numbers and we made recommendations that they move a motion in Parliament to do away with the VAT and import duty on condoms. Countries around us such as Zambia, Malawi, and other regional countries have either zero import duty and very little VAT that is charged when condoms are imported,” he added.
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) Coordinator in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Anna Machiha said some people who are accessing public sector condoms should be moved to private sector to ensure that only those who cannot afford to access free contraceptives.
“Public sector condoms occupy the biggest market share, about 77 percent of the market, whilst social marketing occupies about 22 percent and 1 percent is occupied by the private sector and this is an anomaly. Why do I say so? There are people who are accessing free condoms or public sector condoms who can actually be moved to the private sector or social market and there are some who in the social market who should be in the private market.
“This is work that we have been doing over the past two years to ensure that we look at the issues in our market and try to segment and make sure that we target condoms accordingly, living the free condoms for people who cannot afford to pay and then we move the rest to where they belong,” said Machiha.
Zimbabwe’s national condom program comprises public sector condoms, private sector condoms, and Social Marketing condoms.
However, increased donor fatigue has seen major donors such as USAID and PEPFAR cutting their funding towards the procurement of public sector and social sector condoms in Zimbabwe from US$4 million in 2019 to US$3 million in 2020.