SEPTEMBER 12 has been declared Global Female Condom Day.
Individuals and organisations across the world will come together for a day of action to demonstrate global demand for this highly effective safer sex tool.
The female condom gives more power to women to negotiate safer sex as a prevention option, and thus empowers them. It is easier to negotiate the use of a female condom as it can be inserted before sex. The female condom can enhance sexual pleasure and feels more natural. It is suitable for all women and can be used during menstruation, pregnancy and after giving birth.
Female condoms are also a protective option during anal sex and this use deserves more awareness among all target groups, including men who have sex with men, who are considered at high risk of becoming infected with HIV or for transmitting it.
If female condoms were to be promoted along with male ones it would increase the total number of protected sex acts. Using female condoms reduces the risk that a woman living with HIV will be re-infected with a different HIV strain or another STI. However, in many countries this method of protection remains unavailable.
Where available the supply remains severely limited, inaccessible or unaffordable to those who need it most. There is a need for access to female condom and to ensure that every person across the globe knows about female condoms. With greater awareness more people will demand this life saving prevention tool.
Condoms in spotlight after 19 years of neglect
NINETEEN years after female condoms were approved by the US FDA in 1993, they are not yet available as widely as one would have wished.
What could have delayed their optimal utilisation to meet the unmet prevention needs: was it because female condoms were not rolled out under a robust enough and well-resourced comprehensive programme and strategy, or potential users didn’t prefer using them?
Communications Officer with PSI Swaziland Bongiwe Zwane said the response towards female condoms has not been phenomenal as the male one.
This has led to the organisation re-branding the product instead of distributing the ordinary female condom. They now distribute condoms branded ‘Angel.’ She said the response did not mean they have to completely withdraw the product from the market but would try to re-position it as the aim is to maximise the variety of protection tools against HIV.
The female condom comes with a lot of benefits - woman can wear it eight hours before intercourse. This allows the condom to take the body temperature. It also cuts out on the time spent wearing a condom just before intercourse. This condom also gives women the power to negotiate for safer sex.
Citizen News Service reports that delegates of the XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington DC recently voted for the female condom - sending a clear message that its introduction must be supported by strong, well-resourced and strategic scale up programmes in countries and communities where unmet need is acute.
The female condom is the only available female-initiated method that provides multiple protection against a range of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV and unintended pregnancies. It also provides bi-directional protection to both partners who engage in the coital act.
However, many women and men who are in urgent need of HIV prevention methods and want to use female condoms are unable to access them.
Currently, millions of women do not have access to affordable contraceptives and other protective measures for STIs such as HIV.
Female condoms are a cost-effective and lifesaving tools, yet they represent only 1% of all condoms distributed worldwide.
At AIDS 2012, the Paper Dolls campaign by Universal Access to Female Condoms, Centre for Health and Gender Equity, AIDS Foundation of Chicago and other partners highlighted the fact that many women and men around the world are calling for increased access to female condoms as a preferred form of dual protection.
‘Building a better
world: partnering with youth’
“TO unleash the power of young people, we need to partner with them,” said United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
Swaziland will on Sunday join the world in commemorating the International Youth Day.
The celebrations will be led by the Swaziland National Youth Council. Each year on August 12, International Youth Day (IYD) is assigned a theme; a conceptual slogan that communicates the scope, direction, and objectives of the year’s youth initiatives. That also provides a unifying banner from under which individuals can draw the inspiration to take action.
The theme chosen for International Youth Day 2012 – ‘Building a Better World: Partnering with youth’ – is a global call to action for young men and women, as well as other stakeholders around the world, to develop and engage in partnerships with and for youth towards building a better world.
International Youth Day 2012 provides an important opportunity to build upon the priorities of the secretary general’s Action Agenda, as well as to respond to calls from youth organisations and UN Member States around the world to strengthen mechanisms for partnerships with young people by exploring various and innovative ways that the United Nations, Member States, civil society, the private sector, academia and philanthropists effectively partner and collaborate with young people, especially in the areas of employment, entrepreneurship, political inclusion, citizenship and protection of rights, and education, including on sexual and reproductive health.
International Youth Day 2012 aims to highlight good practices in developing and expanding successful partnerships with young people, and to put forward concrete recommendations on how the United Nations and stakeholders around the world can build and enhance partnerships with youth.
HMIS must be responsive to emerging health information
PRESIDENT’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) representative Dr Peter Ehrenkranz said Health Management Information Systems (HMIS) need to be responsive to emerging health information needs of the country.
He was speaking during the launch of the HMIS review at Royal Swazi Spa last week.
Dr Ehrenkranz said Americans through PEPFAR were committed to support the development of the health system in the country.
He said they believed that for a health system to be strong, its leaders and front line health care workers needed access to timely and accurate data to be able to make the best decisions for the country as well as for individual patients.
Dr Ehrenkranz noted that if collected consistently and accurately it could be monitored and evaluated regularly to ensure that quality services were delivered at every facility, and to focus mentoring and supervision on facilities that have room to improve.
Similarly, systematically collecting health information on an individual will have a real impact on the quality of the patient’s health care.
“PEPFAR is honoured to be part of the strategic information community in Swaziland and to be able to participate in the ministry’s efforts to strengthen its Health Management Information System.
PEPFAR is supporting the ministry to review its current HMIS.
The purpose of the review is to help the ministry determine gaps in the existing system, identify requirements of a more effective one and develop an action plan to address its shortfalls,” he said.