September 17, 2013
Onyebuchi Chukwu, Nigeria's minister of health, and Professor Oladapo Ladipo, president and CEO of the Association for Reproductive and Family Health, recommended incorporating female condom use into family planning programs to prevent unwanted pregnancies and to protect women and children from increasing incidence of HIV and STDs. Chukwu reported that recent studies indicated rising HIV incidence among Nigerians ages 25 to 29. Ladipo stated that dual protection measures such as female condoms were especially important because maternal morbidity and mortality were much higher in developing countries such as Nigeria. He attributed the disparity to limited access to quality reproductive health services and lack of reproductive health knowledge among women.
Ladipo explained that most family planning programs emphasized male condom use. Increased female condom use would offer more contraceptive choices and allow for female-initiated protection. He urged local women's groups and youth groups, community leaders, service providers, program managers, and professional health associations to engage in a coordinated advocacy effort to share key messages about female condom use with the public and private sectors and the donor community.
Chukwu agreed that female condoms could provide a means to empower women for sexual health and noted that female condoms were an "overlooked" life-saving commodity. Because female condoms were not well known around the world, there was only a small global market at present. However, Chukwu stated that Nigeria's Ministry of Health had developed guidelines and a training manual on female condom use for healthcare providers, and he believed the coordinated advocacy effort for female condom use also would support the integration of family planning with HIV prevention.