To provide advocates with current Female Condom (FC) advocacy information and materials, the Association for Reproductive and Family Health (ARFH) organized an update meeting in Abuja early October 2016.The meeting, organized with support from Rutgers, Netherlands through the Universal Access to Female Condoms Joint Program (UAFC), provided an opportunity for ARFH to share sample copies and online links of FC advocacy resource materials.
In attendance were advocates from partner organisations such as Pathfinder International, Education as a Vaccine (EVA) Nigeria, as well as participants from government institutions, women groups and faith-based organisations.
While discussing the efforts and progress of the Female Condom Advocacy programme in Nigeria, Dr Abiodun Hassan, Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator, ARFH, who represented the President/CEO of ARFH, stated that a landscaping analysis of existing government policies in Nigeria revealed that there are significant gaps and issues as to how the policies defines strategies that will enable access, availability and utilization of Female Condoms in Nigeria.
However, he noted that the good intentions of the government and stakeholders ensured that Female Condoms are being given the right of place, despite financial challenges.
Dr Hassan said: “support from various donors, international and local partners ensured that attention and enough opportunities were created to make Female Condom available at various stores”.
He also stated that Female Condoms are more user friendly, more comfortable and more convenient for women and in comparison to male condoms, gives women some advantage to be able to ensure safety during sex. “It enables women to have an option without relying on their male counterparts, as Female Condoms are protective mechanisms against sexually transmitted infections”.
Mrs Titi Abolade, Female Condom Advocacy Project Coordinator, ARFH, demonstrated how to use and dispose of Female Condoms correctly and advised that FC advocates that are health practitioners should give enough free samples of FCs to their clients to practice with before actual use.
Mrs Abolade said: “for health practitioners, we always advise that you give enough samples of the Female Condom to your clients so that they can practice before actual use, because once they are able to practice and use it correctly, the likelihood of them continuing to use it will be more”.
Dr Sakina Bello, an FC advocate, and participant from Pathfinder International advised that when advocates are counselling people to use FCs, the benefits of the different brands should be emphasized. Dr Sakina Bello said: “For example, firstly, the material the FC2 is made of – nitrile, is hypo-allergenic and does not cause reactions from people allergic to latex. Secondly, it gives a near natural feeing and the inner ring and the outer ring increases pleasure for women”. She reiterated that advocates should give people a reason to try using the Female Condom.
Participants suggested some activities and actions to be taken as next steps for FC advocacy and some of the recommendations proffered were accepted as action points. To increase engagement with women organisations in the grassroots, it was suggested and agreed that an advocacy visit to the President of the market women association in Lagos State (Iya Oloja) will be conducted to create an opportunity to reach thousands of women in the state. Other actions to be taken include advocacy engagement with the National Council for Women Societies (NCWS), Abuja, and identification of focal persons for FCs at the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs (FMWA).
NEWS REPORT ON THE EVENT – The Guardian Nigeria – ‘Paucity of Funds Hampers Roll-Out of National Condom Strategy’