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of the female condom?
September 10, 2009
If you haven't
seen a female condom lately, you're not alone. More than 15 years
after the only female-controlled method to prevent HIV was introduced,
it is still largely marginalized and inaccessible.
IRIN/PlusNews has compiled
a list illustrating female condom distribution in Southern African
The government distributed
over 370,000 female condoms free of charge in 2008, mainly through
its health facilities. The condoms can also be purchased from stores
and pharmacies for about US$2.80 each.
The Ministry of Health
and Social Welfare distributed about 110,000 female condoms by September
In 2008 the health department
announced that it would distribute a redesigned and easier-to-insert
model of the prophylactic in government clinics, at no cost; 948,000
female condoms were distributed in 2008, according to implementing
partner the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).
Sold under the brand-name
"Care", the condoms cost about MK35.00 ($0.25) per pack
of two. Partner organizations distributing the condoms have been
working with religious leaders in the highly conservative country
to promote their use.
PSI sold almost 33,000
female condoms in 2008 for as little as $0.12 each. However, there
have been major delays in government's free distribution programme.
In 2008, UNFPA gave the
Ministry of Health 1,250,000 of the prophylactics, but none have
actually been distributed, as the government is still training health
workers on the condoms and conducting advocacy as part of their
national roll-out, according to the UNFPA country office.
The most news the female
condom has made in recent years was when young women started cutting
them up to make rubber bracelets of the insertive rings. According
to UNFPA country spokesperson Valery Pack, the prophylactics remain
about 950,000 condoms in 2008, retailing for about $1.00 each. The
country has also set up a programme that allows bars to collect
the condoms from government medical stores and distribute them to
About 3.6 million of
the prophylactics were distributed free of charge at government
health facilities in 2008.
One of the country's
largest pharmacy chains, Click's, sells a twin-pack of female condoms
for about R30 or $3.85. According to Rob Jones, a buyer for the
chain, they are also planning to carry the new three-pack once it
In 2008 the government
and partners handed out about 312,000 female condoms to Swazis,
according to UNFPA country spokeswoman Nomahlubi Matiwane. Although
most users get them free, the condoms are also available through
subsidized social marketing programmes at a cost of about $0.60.
Government and UNFPA
distributed about 280,000 condoms in 2008 - slightly more than half
the number distributed by local social marketing NGOs. The going
rate for 10 female condoms is K2190 ($0.55).
If there is a female
condom success story, it is Zimbabwe, which boasts the highest rate
of female condom distribution per capita worldwide, according to
UNFPA country office estimates. In 2008, the government and partners
distributed over five million of the condoms.
First introduced in 1997
and initially marketed as the "Care Contraceptive Sheath",
sales of female condoms rose by almost 60 percent in 2007, according
Population Services International
(PSI), a social marketing organization, is the main supplier of
socially marketed subsidized condoms, which are distributed via
stores, pharmacies and hair salons for about less than one US cent
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