By BOSE ADELAJA
Nine out of 10 Nigerian women of child-bearing age are not using modern contraceptive methods. This is one of the startling revelations at a stakeholders’ dissemination on the Universal Access to female Condom programme aimed at increasing demand and access to female condoms in Nigeria.
Studies have shown that the country has a low contraceptive prevalence rate of 10 per cent as regards modern family method which has resulted to unplanned pregnancy and increased maternal mortality rates.
Indeed, reports have shown that the incidence of HIV in Nigeria is also relatively high among West African countries, especially among women and girls who disproportionately bear the HIV and AIDS burden in the country, both in risk and in care for those who are infected and affected by HIV.
To address the situation, stakeholders last week converged on Lagos to examine the challenges posed by Sexually Transmitted Diseases STDs, and unwanted pregnancies as well as proffer solutions.
According to the experts, the use of female condoms will help to minimise the occurrence of STDs, unplanned pregnancies and mortality rates in West African countries even as they urged women of childbearing age to urgently embrace the use of female condoms to reduce the risks involved in unprotected sex.
At the Stakeholders meeting, which also marked the end of programme dissemination aimed at increasing the demand and access to the female condom, the Project Manager, Universal Access to Female Condom, UAFC, Mrs. Victoria Archibong, said the programme was implemented in three pilot states; Edo, Delta and Lagos with the target to increase the demand for female condom at an affordable price of N30 per pack.
Chief Operating Officer, Wale Adedeji, noted that the programme which started in August 2008 and ended in December 2011 had Society for Family Health, SFH, as the contractor of the project in Nigeria.
“The programme had identified strategies for increasing visibility acceptance and support for improving female condom programming and distribution in Nigeria, in order to expand contraceptive choices for women as well as address women’s sexual and reproductive health rights.”, he said.
Adedeji added that the organisation has established awareness of the female condom while acceptance has reached 60.9 per cent as against the former 38.9 per cent at baseline.
In her welcome address, President SFH Board, Hon. Justice Ifeyinwa Nzeako, said the programme mainly focused on product distribution and training for health care providers all within the frame work of the public sector.
Some participants who spoke to Vanguard testified that female condoms had helped them to enjoy sex.
Mrs. Bimpe Arogundade, CEO, Bimeno Training Consult who said she knew about female condom since 1993, noted that the product is good for those whose vagina are usually dried. ‘’Female condom makes sex to be interesting. I am already in my menopause but female condom is keeping me going’’