As the world celebrates the World Condom Day (WCD) today, sections of the country’s public health community are reflecting on what they call the 600 million unmet condoms demand gap and the challenges of promoting safer sex awareness, reduction of sexually transmitted diseases, as well as a smart pathway towards family planning.
To commemorate this year’s World Condom Day, the Premium Times Center for Investigative Journalism, PTCIJ, in collaboration with AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) and the National Agency for the Control of Aids (NACA) will be hosting a tweet meet to discuss the importance of condoms in society and its role in family planning.
The Advocacy and Marketing Manager for AHF in Nigeria, Steve Aborisade, however, told PREMIUM TIMES, in Abuja, Friday, that closing the condom gap was critical for promoting safer sex awareness and enhancing the sustainability of condom promotion, especially for key population groups in high burden areas of Nigeria.
Referencing a 2017 study produced for his organisation, Mr Aborisade said general Nigerian consumption pattern revealed that 83 per cent of adult Nigerians believe that people should use condoms, while 58 per cent requested that advocacy groups and other concerned stakeholders should create awareness on the negative effects of not using condoms. Also, the major reason cited among those that do not use condoms is that it is against their religion (34 per cent), he said.
The study, titled Condom Landscape Assessment, was a nationwide public opinion poll regarding condom accessibility and use in Nigeria, and was conducted by NOI-Polls for the AHF and NACA.
Mr Aborisade said, Nigeria’s condom market, thought to be more than 400 million condoms, remains shackled by market inefficiencies which limit equitable and sustainable access to condoms, particularly for the most vulnerable populations.
The study suggested that “the outpouring of free condoms and inadequate targeting of free condom distribution” are the drivers for the market inefficiencies because they disrupted sales of commercial and socially marketed condom brands, triggering insufficiency in the market at a time the country “was facing an $18 million per year funding gap for condoms.”
According to the 2017 report, more men (57.6 per cent between the ages of 15 and 49) reported using a condom when they last had sex, compared to 39.8 per cent of women, while in the past decade, the (2010-2015) national HIV strategy which aimed to increase condom use, particularly among young people and those who have never been married identified “condom uptake as major area of challenge, identifying cost, low availability and resistance to condom promotion from certain key religious and cultural groups to have been some of the main barriers to progress.”
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Condoms have always come with attitudes and the study, three years ago, confirmed that 63 per cent of Nigerians admitted that the first thing that comes to their mind when they hear the word condom is sexual pleasure, while 45 per cent disclosed that they instantly think of promiscuity when they see someone with a condom.
However, opinion on personal consumption showed that only 34 per cent of Nigerians admitted that they use condoms. Of this number – only 28 per cent of them stated that they use condoms consistently. It is important to note that this is 34 per cent of the general population as the survey did not screen for condom use among high-risk individuals.
Also, to create better awareness of condom, 52 per cent of respondents believe that it is appropriate to promote the use of condoms to Nigerians from the age of 18 and it is reassuring to know that 78 per cent of Nigerians disclosed that they are likely to recommend the use of condoms to someone.
Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism [PTCIJ] is a non-profit media innovation and development organisation. Its theory of change is erected on using independent journalism that advances good governance, anti-corruption, fundamental human rights, democratic accountability to foster development through investigative journalism, open data and civic technology. Among its successful signature projects include: a health reporting; fact checking; media freedom, media and terrorism, natural resource and climate journalism projects.
Elaborating on the partnership, PTCIJ’s Programme Manager on Health Journalism, Mboho Eno, said “popularizing condom use, at this time, represents one of the most important public health initiatives, and slammed as shameful, the position of the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission, NBC, which disallows the advertisement of condoms.”
There is no better time than now, Mr Eno remarked, to fully and generously popularise the use of condoms as a strategy to improve the current family planning regime in the country, to combat the increasing incidence of Gender Based Violence, and stem the ravages of other pandemics like HIV/AIDS. “We have worked closely with women, youth and children focused organizations in the past, and in the last three years, we have consistently held an annual dialogue around the primary health care system, family planning, and health financing in Nigeria. This dialogue brings together the medical practitioners, policymakers, donor agencies and citizens,” Mr Eno said.
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