By John-Henry Westen and Kathleen Gilbert
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, February 12, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The flow of medical supplies waiting to be distributed to tens of thousands of earthquake victims in Haiti was delayed for weeks by a massive supply of condoms dominating the space of the main storage facility there, an eyewitness with insider information has told LifeSiteNews.com (LSN).
The central pharmaceutical supply center, known as PROMESS (Program on Essential Medicine and Supplies), is home to the operations of the World Health Organization (WHO)/Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in the area. "Without PROMESS we would have had a second catastrophe," Dr. Alex Larsen, Haitian Minister of Health, said at the PROMESS warehouse recently.
However, the glut of condoms at that same warehouse delayed the massive influx of aid pouring in from around the world, according to an inside source, and may have cost lives. The source reported that shipping containers of medical supplies were unable to be unloaded, sorted and distributed since an enormous supply of condoms clogged the facility till early February, when the condoms could be removed. The condoms were estimated to take up about 70% of the space in the 17,000 sq. ft. warehouse.
The supplies pouring into the region are enormous. Reliefweb reports that “from 16-21 January alone, 483,091 kg of pharmaceutical supplies and 4,990 kg of non-pharmaceutical health supplies, like rubber gloves and masks, arrived at Port-au-Prince airport.”
Nicholas Reader of the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said he was "not aware" of the problem, and directed LSN to the World Health Organization for more information. Paul Garwood, the communications officer for emergencies and humanitarian affairs at the World Health Organization, also said he was unaware of the issue. Garwood forwarded the request to colleagues in Haiti, who have not responded as of press time.
While WHO officials are not speaking specifically about the condom clog, they have in more general terms admitted logistical hardships in dealing with the influx of supplies.
"Trying to both respond to the massive health needs in Haiti following the quake and organize the large volume of supplies entering the country has been a great challenge," according to WHO/PAHO representative in Haiti, Dr Henriette Chamouillet.
The scenario of medical supply buildings in the developing world taken up mostly by condoms and severely lacking in health care supplies is not new.
When Canadian General Romeo Dallaire returned from Rwanda in the aftermath of the Rwandan Massacre he noted in a 1996 speech that military personnel referred to UN and other foreign aid as "covering the country with rubber."
Dallaire explained that tons of condoms and other contraceptives were being shipped to and distributed around the region in quantities far beyond what the population could use and in place of much more needed food, medicine and other critically needed aid. Medicine stores, he said, were filled with contraceptives and extremely short of any supplies to treat wounded Rwandans.
With business-savy ingenuity some in the developing world have turned the condom dumping by the West to their advantage. The BBC reported in 2004 that in one Indian city alone 600,000 condoms a day were used in the sari-weaving industry. Sari weavers use the lubrication in the condoms to soften the loom's shuttle making weaving faster, without risking stains to the silk.
The United Nations strategy of massive promotion of condoms as the primary solution to the AIDS crisis is reflected even in recent reports, with no sign of letting up.
For cultures which value life, and family, the condom push into their cultures is highly offensive. Carol Ugochukwu, President of United Families of Africa in Enugu, Nigeria, commented in a 2000 interview noting that Western delegations at the United Nations were trying to "exterminate the whole race" with their promotion of condoms.
Ugochukwu expressed exasperation that Canada, the US and Europe wasted most of the time at UN conferences trying to gain approval for homosexuality while the needs of African women such as food, shelter, and clean drinking water were largely ignored. "ig organizations," she said, "spend so much money, but when they find out you are dealing with all that [dying children and mothers] they are not interested. You have to say you are dealing with reproductive rights before you are given support."
Ugochukwu concluded, "[Westerners] now come in with condoms - condoms are everywhere! They spend so much money on condoms and they make our children promiscuous. They say it will stop AIDS - but it is getting worse! It makes no sense to me."