Kuni Tyessi in Abuja
In pursuance of diverse Family Planning methods as well as in curbing the spread of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI), the female condom has come to stay in Nigeria but regrettably, statistics has revealed that there is less than one per cent compliance and with the North recording almost zero per cent.
Dr. Sekina Bello of the Pathfinder International, a non-governmental organisation, who stated this in Abuja at a one-day meeting with key development partners and service providers towards adopting and developing a plan of action for the nationwide roll-out of the tools, said like the male condoms which recorded an uproar during its introduction, so is the female condom which will also be accepted with the right kind of education, enlightenment and training.
While stressing the need for healthcare providers to be well informed about its use, as well as calling on husbands to champion it’s use and support their wives, she said the female condoms which does not just help in preventing unwanted pregnancies and the spread of infections between partners, also serves as a barrier for the spread of infections to an unborn child in the case of an already pregnant woman, and reiterated that the tool has been modified for easy use and acceptability.
”Generally, the acceptability of female condom is very low both in the North and in the South. The national demographic survey conducted in 2013 states that less than one per cent of women in Nigeria use the female condom. So I can boldly say that in the North, it is almost non-existent because the commodities are available but whenever you go for them, they are either in the drawer or in the store somewhere. Most of the healthcare providers do not know how to use it and so they cannot even convince anybody to use it.
“The problem in the North is that husbands do not generally come with their wives to seek healthcare and in the trainings we do, the healthcare providers are involved even though some of them are community-based, but majority of the women come on their own to seek for Family Planing services. They don’t bring their husbands along.
“The female condom is available in all public facilities free of charge. What I can say about cost is that it might not be available in all pharmacies but can be found in any public facility and it is free of charge in any public facility you walk into in this country. But because they don’t know it, they don’t ask for it. The healthcare providers are also not well educated about it and so they shy away from bringing it out and so lack the will power to encourage their clients to use it as availability of commodity is made on requisition made by healthcare providers.
“There is so much misconception surrounding the use of the female condom. If one person uses it and something happens, instead of her to back and seek clarification, she just spreads with word of mouth that its use is painful or uncomfortable. However, the second brand, which is the FC2 brand, made specifically by a female health company, has gone through a lot of modifications. So the new one does not make any kind of noise and a mere touch of the material will convince you that it just warms up with your own skin. It’s very thin and it’s just near natural. The man can even hardly know that there is anything coming between him and his partner.
“The only thing that can work for men is continuous education and orientation. We need to keep talking to the men and changing their orientation and getting them to advocate for it instead of having females advocate for it. We need to have the men use it so that they will be testifying to their friends and colleagues and that will go a long way in changing their perception and increasing acceptability of the female condom.”