Coalition members moderate female condom online forum
29th July 2008
The INFO Project, along with Coalition members PATH and Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE), with support from partners of the Implementing Best Practices (IBP) Initiative and WHO/RHR organized a two-week online global forum on female condoms from April 23 - May 2, 2008. The forum presented the latest guidance from the 2007 publication "Family Planning, A Global Handbook for Providers" regarding female condoms, reviewed new products in the pipeline, and allowed colleagues around the world to share questions and experiences around female condom programming. Nearly 500 participants from 72 countries joined the discussion which was moderated by Patricia Coffey and Maggie Kilbourne-Brook of PATH along with Serra Sippel and Lauren Sisson of CHANGE. Over the two-week e-forum, 48 responses were received from 20 countries representing a range of perspectives and experience. Key points in the e-forum discussion are summarized here.
- Participant reports suggest that female condoms are promoted more often through family planning programmes than through HIV/AIDS programmes.
- Discussion participants agreed that a generally negative perception toward female condoms by some reproductive health (RH) advocates, providers, programme implementers and donors has limited acceptance and access.
- Country participants advocated that female condoms should be available within both family planning/RH and HIV/AIDS programmrs.
- While some participants agreed that cost is a key barrier to female condom programming, one participant suggested that programmes might invest more in this important dual protection method if stronger evidence of high acceptability existed.
- Participants discussed the perception that female condoms are too costly to include in programmes with limited budgets when supply, promotion and distribution of female condom is compared to male condoms.
- Discussion participants raised the concern that users will substitute female condoms, a more expensive product, for male condoms.
- A coordinated strategy for introducing female condoms at the country-level is critical.
- The female condom offers creative marketing and product placement opportunities.
- Social and cultural attitudes about condoms, sex and women also create barriers to accessibility and acceptability.
- Zimbabwe and Nigeria were identified as useful models for female condom scale-up through the implementation of a participatory strategy. Civil society organizations play an important role in creating a supportive environment for advocacy, education, and distribution of female condoms.
For more information, contact Patricia Coffey.