Home | News    Thursday 29 June 2006

Sudanese health minister’s advocacy of condoms sparks protest

separation
increase
decrease
separation
separation

By Peter Moszynski

June 27, 2006 (LONDON) — Sudan’s Federal health minister, Dr Tabitha Sokaya (SPLM), has provoked a political storm by publicly advocating condom use to stem the country’s HIV crisis.

JPEG - 6 kb
Tabitha Sokaya

Although the extent of the HIV problem was largely unrecognised until monitoring began in southern Sudan last year, latest UNAIDS figures show that Sudan has the highest prevalence in North Africa and the Middle East, with 1.6% of adults and 3-8% of youth infected. An estimated 23 000 people have died of AIDS related illness.

Dr Sokaya, who holds a PhD in nursing from Birmingham University, in the United Kingdom, returned to Sudan after last year’s comprehensive peace agreement, and was appointed minister of health in the national unity government established in September 2005.

She is the first woman to hold the post and the first Christian. Her job was one of four cabinet ministries awarded to the former rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) in the peace deal. Former colleagues explain that her position is somewhat constrained because northern Sudan is still governed by Islamic (sharia) law, and extramarital sex is, theoretically, a capital offence.

Her open speaking about AIDS and advocacy of condom use led to calls for her dismissal last week by MPs from the ruling National Congress party. Although few people take the threats seriously, they indicate the obstacles to effective implementation of Sudan’s national AIDS strategy.

A United Nations Population Fund spokesman, Abubakar Dungus, commented, “The male latex condom has proven to be the single most effective available technology to reduce the sexual transmission of HIV.”

Suleiman Mousa Rahhal, an opposition politician and UK trained virologist from the same Nuba Mountains district as Dr Sokaya, believes that AIDS has become such a problem because many Sudanese are “sexually hyperactive” but discussion of the subject is “culturally taboo” and condoms virtually unobtainable.

He alleges the previous government often covered up outbreaks of disease and says that the new administration must be more transparent: “Because the risk has never been properly explained in the media there is almost no public awareness of AIDS.”

He told the BMJ that HIV first became apparent 10 years ago. “Soldiers based near the Ugandan and Congolese borders were the first victims who carried the disease with them to neighbouring areas, which later spread centrifugally to other parts of Sudan.”

As thousands more soldiers and millions of displaced people return in the wake of peace, the risks of transmission are “dramatically increasing,” according to UNICEF, which estimates nearly 75% of Sudanese youth are sexually active but fewer than one in 10 knows how to use a condom.

UNICEF believes that 60 000 children have been orphaned by AIDS, and some 300 000 youths are infected and warns, “AIDS could undo all of the peace dividends if it’s not addressed now.”

(BJM/ST)

Comments on the Sudan Tribune website must abide by the following rules. Contravention of these rules will lead to the user losing their Sudan Tribune account with immediate effect.

- No inciting violence
- No inappropriate or offensive language
- No racism, tribalism or sectarianism
- No inappropriate or derogatory remarks
- No deviation from the topic of the article
- No advertising, spamming or links
- No incomprehensible comments

Due to the unprecedented amount of racist and offensive language on the site, Sudan Tribune tries to vet all comments on the site.

There is now also a limit of 400 words per comment. If you want to express yourself in more detail than this allows, please e-mail your comment as an article to comment@sudantribune.com

Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

Comment on this article


 
 

The following ads are provided by Google. SudanTribune has no authority on it.


Sudan Tribune

Promote your Page too

Latest Comments & Analysis


2015 elections are not a priority for Sudanese 2014-07-23 04:35:55 By Mahmoud A. Suleiman July 22, 2014 - This article comes against the backdrop of the news that reported the announcement of the National Elections Commission (NEC) that it had prepared the (...)

Bashir rests assured laden-burden on the Sudanese people’s shoulders 2014-07-14 06:09:16 By Mahmoud A. Suleiman July 13, 2014 - Omer al-Bashir believes that his continuing in power better protects him from tracking and prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC). He clings (...)

Lack of equity: A cause of many conflicts in Africa 2014-07-14 06:05:33 By Francis Ayul Yuar Nyok July 13, 2014 - It should be kept in mind that Africa crisis is not unique, more or less all the countries of the Sub-Sarah Africa are plague with acute poverty and in (...)


MORE








Latest Press Releases


Memory, healing and transformation in South Sudan 2014-07-23 05:55:08 Memory, Healing and Transformation in South Sudan A Working Paper by David K. Deng July 2014 Contents Introduction 1 What is memorialization? 2 Timing 2 Risks 3 Principles 3 Integrity 3 (...)

South Sudan: Independence Day marred by ongoing war crimes and looming famine 2014-07-09 01:39:56 AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PRESS RELEASE 8 July 2014 South Sudan: Independence Day marred by ongoing war crimes and looming famine · Both sides to the conflict committing war crimes and crimes (...)

UN urged to probe alleged cover-ups and manipulations by its mission in Darfur 2014-06-26 05:40:52 Strengthen Peacekeeping Mission’s Rights Reporting, Civilian Protection (New York, June 25, 2014) – The United Nations secretary-general should investigate alleged cover-ups and manipulation of (...)


MORE

Copyright © 2003-2014 SudanTribune - All rights reserved.