Association advocates increased awareness, availability of female condoms
The Association for Reproductive and Family Health (ARFH) has called for increased public awareness about female condoms to promote safe sex.
Mrs Osinowo Kehinde, ARFH’s Director of Programme, made the appeal at a female condom advocacy programme on Thursday in Abuja.
Kehinde also said the use of female condoms would prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases in the country.
Describing female condoms as effective as the male condom and easily affordable, she however said more awareness is needed to promote its accessibility.
The director explained that it empowers women and girls to make informed reproductive health choices as well as exercise their sexual and reproductive rights.
However, Kehinde advised that advocacy for the commodity from the community level was the surest way to stimulate demand and increase availability.
According to her, female condom is the only available female initiated contraceptive method that provides dual protection against a range of sexually transmitted infections.
She noted that in spite the introduction of female condoms in the country since 1998 only a few people have knowledge of its existence.
“The National Demographic Health Survey 2013 reports that 28.6 per cent of women in Nigeria know about female condom while less than 0.5 per cent use it.
“It is clear that awareness about female condoms is low despite an apparent need for it in the country as indicated by the contraceptive prevalence among women in Nigeria put at 16 per cent and total fertility rate at 5.5 per cent by same survey.
“Female condoms are a cost effective and lives saving tools yet they represent a small percentage of all condoms.
“In Nigeria female condoms are one of the life saving commodities recommended by United Nations Commission on life saving commodities to safeguard women’s health and help them plan their families are plague with issues of access, affordability and availability,’’ she said.
Besides, Kehinde said that there was urgent need for dual protection and prevention methods to protect women and couples from STIs, HIV and unintended pregnancy.
According to her, there is need for Federal Government, community and religious leaders, among other stakeholders, to be actively engaged with female condom programming to avoid resistance to the product.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event was aimed at scaling up female condom programming as an integral part of family planning programme in the country.
It was also geared toward promoting the knowledge and understanding of key national level decision and policy makers on the reproductive health and rights issues of women.