Make love, not war - HSE buying in half a million condoms and a lot of lube

Venture: The HSE has tendered a purchase of half a million condoms and lube
Venture: The HSE has tendered a purchase of half a million condoms and lube

If make love not war is the catch-cry, the health authorities are going about it with gusto - and even a certain level of military precision.

In a new venture, tersely named the National Condom Project, the HSE has put an impressively large tender out for the purchase of half-a-million CE quality mark condoms - along with 200,000 sachets of water-based and paraben-free lubricant.

According to the Irish Independent, though in a measure that may somewhat quench the flames of passion, the packets of both items will bear HSE branding.

The tender notice reveals that "the outputs from the National Condom Project will support the establishment of a central distribution stream for condoms to statutory bodies and NGOS."

It will also support existing condom outreach programmes which are "an integral component" of the HSE Crisis Pregnancy service, the notice says.

The condoms and lubricant will also be given out as part of the forthcoming and long-awaited National Sexual Health Strategy, on which the Department of Health began work in May 2012.

A spokesman for the Department said the strategy is currently being finalised.

"It is anticipated that Government approval will be sought to publish the strategy and action plan in the coming months," he said.

Health experts have long called for the strategy to be introduced, which will focus on improving sexual health and well-being and address the surveillance, testing, treatment and prevention of HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STI), crisis pregnancy, and sexual health education.

It will be the first time that a nationally co-ordinated approach has been developed to address sexual health and well-being and to reduce STIs and diseases, particularly HIV.

In November 2012, a HSE report showed the number of reported STIs in Ireland rose by over 12pc in 2011, compared with 2010.

The Dublin Aids Alliance then called for a "targeted and coordinated" approach to improving the access of those who need contraception, with free condoms for all population groups at risk of HIV and other STIs.

The tender notice also includes the transportation of the items in bulk for a date before September 25, to be held at a facility in Waterford, and asks for quality assurance.