|(R-L)Executive Director, ACMS, MINCOM, MINSANTE, MINPROFF|
Many socio-cultural barriers still constitute a handicap, Mr Kpognon said.
The Cameroon Association for Social Marketing (ACMS) started distributing female condoms in the country in 2002.
With support from the Cameroon government, The Universal Access to Female Condom Project (UAFC) Joint Program was launched in November 2009.
The UAFC project’s ‘protectiv’ female condoms targeted the most sexually active Cameroonian women, those between 25 and 35 years.
ACMS officials say strides have been made in its distribution but concur that much still has to be done to get Cameroonians acquainted with the female condom.
Some have observed that its FCFA 300 price tag has been a major wall holding back many sexually active men and women. They rather prefer the male condom they say they can afford at its relatively cheap price (FCFA 100 for a pack of four).
Following a succession of consultations with donor agencies and other stakeholders ACMS decided to shave off FCFA 200 from the initial price of the female condom.
With FCFA 100 one can now afford a pack of three female condoms in Cameroon.
The female condom ACMS experts have said is an alternative technology to help reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and STIs including HIV.
Minister of Public Health (MINSANTE), André Mama Fouda announced the price cut at a press conference in Yaounde on Tuesday May 14, 2013 in the presence of his colleagues, Minister of Communication (MINCOM), Issa Tchiroma Bakary and the Minister of Women’s Empowerment and the Family (MINPROFF), Professor Marie Therese Abena Ondoua.
Mr Mama Fouda urged all sexually active women “to take ownership of their condom and take things under control” like the slogan of the condom says.
“AIDS is still present in the society and remains a public health problem,” the Public Health minister noted.
A drop in the price is not only what is needed. Many Cameroonians still have a hazy knowledge about the female condom.
23 year old Economics major, Sheila, at the University of Yaounde II told this reporter she does not use the female condom because she does not know where to get it.
“Where do I get it, I buy the male condom for my guy because it is available and easy to use”, she said.
Some who know where to get it are reluctant to purchase it. Such is the case of another student of the same institution who asked not to be named.
“When you insert the female condom you don’t feel the taste of the sex. I prefer the male condom”, the student said.
Women and not men should be educated about the availability of the female condom and how it is used according to Willy, an inhabitant of the Omnisport neighbourhood in Yaounde.
“If women themselves move with male condoms in their bags, how do you expect men to ask them to buy the female condom”, Willy said.
Experts say breaking the myth around the female condom requires a lot of sensitization and education as social barriers and ignorance should be wiped off even before measures like price cuts are taken.
Ndi Eugene Ndi