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Health Care Providers Urged To Promote Female Condom 

By Imma Mkong* — A physician, Dr. Gislaine Ada Ngaska, has urged health care providers to promote the use of the female condoms, FC2, in Cameroon.

She was speaking on August 22, during a workshop organised by SUPPORT in collaboration with the Society for Women and Aids in Africa, SWAA-Cameroon, to train health care providers on the promotion and use of the female condom. Dr. Ada Ngaska is the Program Advisor for Africa SUPPORT in the Female Health Company, FHC. 

Africa SUPPORT is providing technical and financial assistance to SWAA-Cameroon for the implementation of an advocacy project for a sustainable access to FC2 in Cameroon. Dr. Ngaska explained their intention is to train 75 FC champions, recruited amongst Parliamentarians, Mayors, physicians from public and private sectors, health care providers and resource persons from the civil society.

According to her, most health care providers don’t talk about the FC due to ignorance. Their beliefs do not correspond with the use of FC so they feel embarrassed to talk about it.
“We are here to build their capacity on the use of the female condoms. Even if their beliefs do not fit with this, they must understand that they are there to provide health services to the public,” she said.

She added that, “after this training, we expect them to be more practical and expressive; not to be shy when talking about the female condom. We will support them with knowledge, documents and IT materials. We are not the leaders in the marketing of FC2; we have Social Marketing Association of Cameroon, which is doing the real job. So we are just here to give our own contribution.”

Presenting the situation of FC2 in Cameroon, the Program Officer for SWAA-Cameroon, Suzanne Ngnie, said that men prefer the female condom because it makes sex more pleasurable and has proven to be the most adequate method of preventing unwanted pregnancies, HIV/AIDS and other STIs.

She added that the FC2 is also very useful to men suffering from weak erections and premature ejaculation. She added that FC2 is a double protection method that has no after effects like other contraceptives. She, however, warned that the male and female condoms should never be used at the same time because it would cause friction during intercourse and injure the couple. She clarified that the FC2 can be used alongside other preservatives.

Ngnie also disclosed that many women have testified that they prefer the FC2 because it gives them control over sex and they can avoid the risk of unwanted pregnancies. FC2 is a good method of family planning, she said.  Commercial sex workers prefer the FC2 because they can insert it while waiting for their customers, since the FCs have the potential of adapting to body temperature for several hours. FC2 is an improvement on the first generation of the femindom, FC1.

So many complaints were put forth about the FC1 such as, it makes a lot of noise during intercourse, its too large in size, and very expensive; FCFA 150. But FC2 is more lubricated, hence makes less noise, has two rings; internal and external rings that facilitate insertion, and is very comfortable. According to Ngnie, the woman only feels uncomfortable when the insertion has not been properly done.

“The female condom and the male condom are complimentary and not competitive,” said Ngnie. She explained that the only reason why some women think the FC2 is large is because they compare it with the male condom which, according to her, is not logical because the size of the condom must go with the size of the genital organ it is meant for.

She said that the FC is about 17 cm long. The FC, being the only female preservative that has been approved by the Food and Drug Association, USA and the WHO, so many myths still surround its use in Cameroon. The FC has been in stores since 1993 but in 2010, FC represented only 2 percent of preservatives in Cameroon.

The Director of the Cité Verte District Hospital, Yaounde, Dr. Emilien Fouda, observed that very little has been said about the female condom despite its importance. She promised to dispatch more persons to go out in schools and the local communities to sensitise the people on the use of FC2 for, according to him, it would help reduce the rate of unwanted pregnancies, HIV/AIDS spread and the transmission of other STIs.

Inspector of Social Affairs and HIV/AIDS specialist, Constatine Onana, said that the woman who uses the FC is independent and has a degree of respect and self dignity. The way forward for FC in Cameroon involves; dismantling cultural barriers, get sustainable financing sources, make FC available to the public and buy in great numbers approved brands of the product.

First published in The Post print edition no 01370

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