Accra, Oct. 30, GNA- The Ghana Health Service in collaboration with its partners will on Wednesday re-launch female condoms in the country to promote its usage as an essential tool for the prevention of unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.
The programme, which seeks to increase public awareness and acceptance of female condoms, would occur at the Mandela Park in Ashaiman.
It is under the theme: “Female Condom for Double Protection”.
It is anticipated that successful promotion of the female condom may pave the way for the successful introduction of other prospective female-initiated methods, such as microbicides.
Speaking to the Ghana News Agency, Dr Yaa Osei Asante, Family Planning Programme Officer of the Ghana Health Service, explained that the first launch of the product was in May 2000 and though successful, uptake and usage remained low.
She said “despite the current lull in activity with regard to female condom promotion, interest and nominal support for it at the policy level are high. This is evidenced by the female condom inclusion in the reproductive health and HIV/AIDS policy frameworks, service provider guidelines, and revised curricula for in-service training”.
Dr Asante said in response to the low use of female condoms in the country, an exploratory study was conducted to gain an understanding of the current and historical landscape of female condom procurement and distribution in Ghana and address the barriers that hinder access to the use of the condom.
The study, she said, revealed that stakeholders were in agreement that momentum has waned substantially since the initial launch adding that financial support for large scale promotion and distribution is also lacking.
Dr Asante said while the product was reportedly available in both the public and private sector, social marketing efforts are virtually absent whiles pelvic models and information, education, and communication materials are equally limited.
She said distribution primarily occurs in urban areas and aside from urban sex workers, programmers have limited information about current or prospective female condoms users.
Dr Asante said government, working with its partners has made an exceptionally large procurement of the female condoms for distribution.
She said there are plans to introduce new models of the female condoms into the country and these models are expected to increase client’s choice.
Dr Asante gave the assurance that efforts to identify and address weaknesses in the supply chain and ensure that the product is available everywhere would be advertised.
Ghana’s current contraceptive prevalence is 23.4 per cent according to the Multiple Indicator Survey Report for 2011 indicating a high unmet need for family planning.
Though female condoms are currently available in 108 countries, its programming mechanisms and levels of uptake vary considerably. Successful programs have been launched in Brazil, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Research from these and other countries indicates that effective national promotion of the female condom has the potential to expand contraceptive choice and thus increase overall contraceptive prevalence.