UGANDA: Ditched female condom makes a comeback

The government halted distribution of the female condom in 2007
Kampala, 12 February 2009 (PlusNews) - The female condom has resurfaced in Uganda's prevention programme almost one and a half years after the government halted distribution of the prophylactic due to poor uptake by women.

"Women - both married and single - have asked us to bring back the female condom," Vashta Kibirige, coordinator of the condom unit at the Ministry of Health, told IRIN/PlusNews. "They want a procedure within their control and need more choices for prevention."

In 2007 the government said women had complained that the female condom was not user-friendly and was noisy during intercourse; at the time, AIDS campaigners and gender activists accused the government of not trying hard enough to promote female-controlled methods of HIV prevention.

Kibirige said her ministry had carried out a situation analysis to gauge the acceptability of the female condom by women across the country before it was reintroduced.

The analysis found that on the whole, women wanted a method that would give them control in protecting themselves from sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancy.

But not all women agreed with reintroducing the female condom: in western Uganda women largely felt it went against their culture, while Karimojong women in the northeast often tore off the condoms' rings for use as decorative bangles.

Kibirige said the ministry would embark on a sensitisation campaign to ensure the prophylactic was accepted in all parts of the country. "One hundred thousand female condoms are going to be distributed, basically to target groups that showed interest in them, mainly in the eastern and central parts of the country."

The new female condoms will be available at government health centres for a small fee, which activists say defeats the purpose of making them available because most Ugandan women cannot afford to pay for them.

Sylvia Namabidde, a member of parliament, said charging women for the condoms could lead to re-use, which raised issues of hygiene and health.

About 1.5 million female condoms were procured by the government ten years ago; some were distributed free of charge but many are still on the shelves of the National Medical Stores.


Theme (s): HIV/AIDS (PlusNews),

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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