THE Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council (ZNFPC) has raised concerns over the distribution and uptake of female condoms in Matabeleland South.
Statistics made available to Southern Eye indicated that between January and June this year, 450 000 female condoms were distributed compared to 14 079 000 male condoms in the southern region of the country.
ZNFPC marketing and communications manager and national female condom promotion co-ordinator Simion Chikwizo said the ratio of female condom uptake against the male condom differed from province to province, but it was almost 30 male condoms to one female condom.
"Generally the distribution and uptake of female condoms in Zimbabwe is low compared to male condoms. In Matabeleland South, the uptake of female condoms is a cause for concern compared to that of the male condoms. The ratio could be estimated to be 30 male condoms to one female condom," he said.
Chikwizo said ZNFPC had introduced the home meeting concept – a programme focusing on educating and promoting communities about the female condom.
He said the programme complemented the current comprehensive condom programme.
Chikwizo said with assistance from the Female Health Company (FHC) in the United Kingdom, ZNFPC had conducted a trainer of trainers course on female condom education and promotion, and has trained 60 community condom promoters in three provinces to spearhead community mobilisation.
"Together with FHC, in UK we have managed to conduct a trainer of trainers course on female condom education in Matabeleland North, Masvingo and Manicaland. The community mobilisers will be working closely with their nearest health facilities and community health committees," he said.
He added it was recommended that women make use of the female condom as it had a lot of advantages compared to the male condom.
"Just like men, women have to make use of the condom as it has a lot of advantages compared to the male condom. Above all, the female condom empowers women to negotiate for safer sex as we are living in times of HIV and Aids. It is made from nitrile polymer (synthetic rubber) which is non-allergenic as some people react to latex from the male condom; it is odourless and not tight or constricting, among many other advantages," Chikwizo said.