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8000 Free Female Condoms On Labour Day 

By Nformi Sonde Kinsai

CameroonPostline.com — Some 8000 female condoms were distributed to women and men alike, for free, on the International Labour Day, May 1, in Yaounde. The female condoms were distributed by the Centre Regional Branch office of the Society for Women and AIDS in Africa, SWAA-Cameroon.

Ngassa demonstrating use of female condom

The President of Centre Regional Office of SWAA-Cameroon, Rev. Richard Ngassa Kessou, told The Post that the Labour Day commemoration was an opportunity for them to continue to sensitise women and men on HIV, other sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies. Ngassa said their message hinged on the availability of the FC2 female condom, which gives the woman the capacity to use it as a preventive method for safer sexual intercourse.

“It was an opportunity for us to inform the huge number of workers that the female condoms are now at their disposal. Women and men who have never seen a female condom took the opportunity to touch and manipulate the product,” he stated. According to Ngassa, the FC2 female condom now constitutes a tool that a woman can use to negotiate with a man for use during sexual intercourse.

He highlighted other advantages to include the convenience of a woman putting on the female condom eight hours to the expected time of a sexual encounter and if she also feels threatened in an environment, she can protect herself by putting on the female condom.

Female condoms equally prolong sexual pleasure. The product is made out of a very solid material and it protects the woman from HIV, other sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies.

“It is a tool for double protection,” Rev. Ngassa maintained. He argued that women can use tablets to prevent unwanted pregnancies but such tablets would not protect them from HIV contamination.

“The female condom costs FCFA 100 in the pharmacy and we are advocating that the price be reduced to make it affordable to all. Right now, we are freely distributing the product to both women and men. In wishing workers a happy Labour Day, we are handing FC2 female condoms and telling them that HIV is just by the corner,” he said.

The workers, through demonstrations by the 12-member team of SWAA-Cameroon, were sensitised on how to effectively use female condoms, how it should be properly conserved and where to check to ensure that the product has not expired. In addition to free FC2 condoms, workers who responded to some questions also went home with a wide variety of gadgets provided by SUPPORT.

Rev. Ngassa believes that, “… as far as one has not done the HIV screening, the presumption should be that everybody is seropositive. People should know that the danger of being contaminated with HIV is permanently staring us in the face and everyone is advised to protect his or herself.”

The Programme Advisor for Africa SUPPORT and head of the structure in Cameroon, Dr. Gislaine Ada Ngaska, stated that they were out to support SWAA-Cameroon organise two fairs (Yaounde and Douala) on FC2 female condoms, especially as the negative impact of HIV/AIDS and unwanted pregnancies in workplaces is now glaring.

She repeatedly talked of raising awareness on the necessity of advocating for better access to FC2 female condoms by all, noting, however, that local and national organisations as well as opinion leaders have to play a frontline role.

“SUPPORT is keen to contribute to these efforts by providing SWAA-Cameroon, which is already an expert organisation and other national partners with seed funding and material assistance to take advocacy and training activities into rural areas,” said Dr. Ngaska.

Sh added, “We believe that building capacities amongst opinion leaders on advocacy for better access to FC2 female condoms will contribute to a sustainable access to this important prevention tool that empowers women and [will] save lives of men and women who may be at risk of HIV infection.”

She also disclosed that the FC2 female condom is, as of now, the only female condom approved by the WHO and the Food and Drugs Administration in the USA.

First published in The Post print edition no. 01341

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