The Lagos State ministry of Health has partnered with ARFH in an effort to increase the understanding of Female Condom among key reproductive health and family planning stakeholders in Lagos state. This partnership is part of the Female Condom Advocacy Project (FCAP) geared towards scaling up knowledge and acceptance of Female Condom Programming in Nigeria. In collaboration with Pathfinder International, ARFH organised a one-day sensitization workshop for selected Female Condom Advocacy Champions and members of Lagos State FP Advocacy Working Group on the 28th of August 2015 at LCCI Conference Center, Ikeja, Lagos State.
The purpose of the sensitization meeting was to provide updates on FCAP project implementation, increase understanding of Lagos state Family Planning Advocacy Working Group on their roles as Female Condom Champions, increase understanding of key stakeholders on Female Condom products and technologies currently available and in development, solicit the continued commitment and support of key stakeholders on female condom programming in Nigeria and strategize on how to engage the Lagos state government on Female Condom programming. The event had 23 participants drawn from the Lagos State Ministry of Health, Lagos State FP Advocacy Working Group, Pathfinder International, UNFPA, Outreach Hospitals CHAI, SHOPS, and Marie Stops. Speaking at the event, The Director of Family Health & Nutrition, Dr. F F Oludara, stated that Family planning services is about development and the state government is committed to increasing the uptake of FP commodities. She noted that use of male condoms is higher in the country compared to FCs. She said one of the barriers to use of FCs is that it isn’t user friendly, especially for males. She encouraged the champions to work in collaboration with other groups, women groups, religious groups, on use of FCs
Also speaking, Dr. Okaga, RH Coordinator at the SMOH stated that the state government as far back as 2013 has taken actions to increase the uptake of Family Planning commodities and improve family planning services in Lagos State through the Review and Resupply model of distribution of commodities, Innovative supportive supervisions, monitoring and reporting of FP commodities at the Federal Medical Store, Oshodi. Dr Okaga maintained that the state government has active health educators who carryout motorised rallies to educate people on the importance of Family Planning programming. However, the state government has not concentrated effort on female condom hence the Ministry welcomes ARFH partnership in an efforts to increase Female condom programming in the state. She asked participants ‘’why cant 60% of FP commodities in Lagos state be Female Condom?’’
Dr. Habeeb Salami, Program Manager at Pathfinder International appreciated the efforts of the state’s ministry of health in promoting family planning programming in the country; he commented that Pathfinder International continues to have a good working relationship with ARFH, working together to supports RH/FP services. He further commented that Pathfinder International intends to expand the choices available to people that are sexually active by introducing FCs to them.
Also speaking Mrs. Abimbola Adegbulugbe one of the FC Advocacy Champions commented that there should be capacity building for FC use in FP programming in the country. She said a lot of religious organisations still do not support use of FCs. She made a commitment to spread knowledge on the correct and consistent use of FCs in the country. She suggested that demonstration of the use of FCs could be aired on national television constantly to promote awareness on the use of FCs among the people. She suggested that animations could also be made to promote awareness on use of FCs in the country. Also, she said promotion on use of FCs on social media. Participants recognized the need to work towards removing the barrier posed by ignorance by providing strong element of knowledge on correct use of Female condom and identified following recommendations
- Need to working strategically with Women networks and groups in Lagos to improve acceptance and use
- Invest in the use of Radio and TV jingles to increase awareness of Female condom and demonstrate correct use of FC
- Explore partnership with Private health service provider to increase demand for FC at private clinics
- Increase awareness of FC among Pharmacies /Paten Medicine Vendors
- To improve acceptability, Female Condoms should be made free