5 Mar 2009

At least two million condoms expire in PNG warehouse

11:57 am on 5 March 2009

More than two million condoms paid for with Australian aid money have been left to expire in Papua New Guinea.

The PNG government's National AIDS Council Secretariat left the stockpile, worth 123, 000 US dollars, sitting in a warehouse for more than 18 months.

The condoms are now past their expiry date and cannot be distributed in a country that has the highest incidence of HIV in the Pacific.

The secretariat has just appointed a new board, which aims to reform its activities and look into serious allegations of mismanagement.

Documents obtained by the news agency, AAP, show the secretariat has overspent its budget, with hundreds of thousands of dollars wasted - most notably on unnecessary travel.

The documents also outline alleged abuses by staff.

The secretariat's new chairman Peter Barter, a former PNG health minister, says the stockpile was discovered during a recent audit.

He says he has only been on the board for a month and has been dealing with various levels of alleged corruption and mismanagement within the secretariat.

Meanwhile, Dr Ann Clarke, general manager of the PNG Business Coalition Against HIV and AIDS, says she was relieved that another batch of condoms had recently arrived in the capital, Port Moresby.

An AusAID spokesman said 45 million male and female condoms were on their way into PNG.

It's estimated two per cent of PNG's population is infected with HIV/AIDS, affecting between 40,000 to 60,000 people.