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Proper Use Of Female Condom Would Curb STIs-Official 

By Leocadia Bongben Saskia, Rutgers Advocacy Officer, demonstrating   on the proper use of the female condom

Women can relax and enjoy sex without fear of sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies with the proper use of female condom.
Martha Sisi, a commercial sex worker has inserted her female condom and lays ready for her fifth client. Like her colleagues, Sisi attends to about 10 customers a day.

This is just one sector where the demand for the female is high and where there are concerns about reproductive health with many cases of abortions and other related issues.
The female condom is essential in helping to prevent sexually transmitted diseases and promoting the health of the woman and sex workers to better carry out their activities.

Michelle Mbiaga of Horizon Femmes an Ngo in Yaounde says, “We used to give out two condoms per commercial sex hawker per day and we have increased the number to 4, which is still not enough for over 20 ladies we receive in our centre daily”.

“The demand is increasing and annually about 9000 female condoms are distributed.”
As the demand keeps increasing, firms are researching to produce the best confortable female condoms.
Saskia Husken, Rutgers Advocacy Officer (an NGO that advocates for reproductive and sexual rights) says there are four WHO approved female condoms in the market.

Some 10 years ago, the female condom was making some plastic-like noise, but since 2007, it has improved into a smooth, soft and lubricated material that doesn’t make noise.

“This has changed, though the myth still persist,” Husken says as she shoves aside one of the misgivings associated with the female condom.
The female condoms available are Femidon, produced by a Female Health Company available in more than 140 countries and Cupit, made of natural robber latex inserted with a ring.

Last month, WHO approved two more condoms, HLL Velvet, made of natural robber latex and Women’s Condom, made of very thin plastic, inserted by means of a small capsule which dissolves in the female body during intercourse.

The panty condom is one of the innovations underway though not yet approved, but an idea that seems to draw the interest of women, given that, it is a pant with a condom stuck to it and is not removed during intercourse. “Looking at the preferences of women and men, it a panty with a small condom placed inside the pant and which unfolds itself in the female body”.

With a variety of female condoms available, it is expected that competition will lead to price reduction.

Though the female condom started since 2003, with more than 3million distributed in Cameroon by ACSM, the needs are enormous, stock-outs, accessible and availability are still problematic.
The snag is that maternal, infant and adolescent health programmes and projects have been financed by donors, who only allow Cameroon to choose form its variety of projects and programmes.

International donor funding is dwindling and there is need to look within the country for funding both in the public and private sectors.

The Global Financial Facility, a trust fund with money available for urgent work is set aside to coordinate better funds spent on reproductive health and Cameroon is among the 12 countries to benefit from the facility, looking at how to organize their own funding to keep reproduction health issues on the radar.

Cameroon launched its programme to ameliorate maternal, infant and adolescent health in May, 2015 and would get the assistance of donors, World Bank and other partners from 2015-2030 to reflect on how to turn the tide on maternal mortality and ensure protection of adolescents against HIV/AIDS and early pregnancies.

Maternal mortality has almost doubled from 430 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1998 to 782 in 2011, meaning about 7000 women lose their lives every year due to pregnancy related causes. One method often neglected is the female condom, a key method for the health of women.

FESADE, Femmes-Sante-Developpment, an NGO in Yaounde in collaboration with other civil society organisations are mobilizing communities on the advantages of female condom and advocating for the female condom to be part of the priorities in the document Cameroon is going to submit to the GFF.

Following a study on the state of the female condom FESADE Coordinator, Urbain Akono Abega maintains that government has a clear vision concerning the female condom in ameliorating reproductive health, but the policies need to be translated into concrete actions.

The budget for reproductive health estimated at FCFA 100 million has been fluctuating, despite the needs for it to be increased to a billion.

With the GFF, the manner of addressing maternal health problems is set to change as Cameroon is given the opportunity to define its priorities and explore ways of financing the priorities.

Civil Society Organizations, CSO have been integrated in the preparation of the GFF document with the sectorial strategy pilot committee that gives orientation having nine CSO representations who wish not only to be part of the conception but also monitor the implementation process.

Since 2009, Rutgers has been working in Cameroon with a local partner FESADE within the programme universal access to female condoms in programming and advocacy. FESADE and its partners are striving to ensure that the female condom and other contraceptives are introduced in the national strategy of family planning and HIV/AIDS prevention.