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Indonesia new health minister denies ‘free condoms’ accusation

Publication Date : 21-06-2012

 

Newly appointed Indonesian Health Minister Nafsiah Mboi has decided to use the online video sharing website YouTube to respond to accusations that she will distribute free condoms to teenagers.

Mboi, who was appointed last week to replace the late Endang Rahayu Sedyaningsih, died of lung cancer on May 2, said in a video post that the accusations were "not true".

"Since last night [Tuesday evening], I have received so many complaints via text-messages and Twitter that as the new health minister, I will distribute free condoms in high schools. This is totally untrue," she said in the video.

In the five-minute video, which was uploaded by her ministry’s public relations office, Mboi said that she would never endorse casual sex among teenagers by handing out condoms to them.

Earlier, dozens of Twitter users denounced the new minister amid rumours that Mboi, a former executive of the National AIDS Commission, would distribute free condoms to teenagers.

She added, however, that in reality, many Indonesians of all ages had unprotected, saying that use condoms were among the last measures to reduce the risks of the harmful practice.

"One of the indicators in sixth point of the MDGs [Millennium Development Goals] is the use of condoms in safe sex practices," she said.

She was referring to the sixth point in the MDGs, which, among other things, aims to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS by 2015.

In 2009, the ministry's data showed that 186,257 people were infected with HIV.

Without accelerated preventive measures, the ministry has predicted that the number of HIV-infected people may increase to 541,700 by 2014.

On Tuesday, one of Indonesia's popular Muslim clerics, Yusuf Mansur, questioned via his Twitter account whether it was true that Mboi would distribute free condoms.

The other Twitter users, such as @ningfirda, wrote, “Why would anyone want to distribute condoms to youngsters? You want to mimic the Western countries? This is sad."

 

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