Cameroun recently became the first country to begin officially marketing and selling two different types of female condoms: the FDA approved FC2 and the new MedTech condom (pictured left), produced in India. The launch of these products is part of Cameroun’s involvement in Universal Access to Female Condoms (UAFC), a global initiative to increase access to female condoms (FCs) by decreasing cost, increasing product choice, providing accurate information to consumers and ensuring adequate supply chains.
Cameroun was chosen to be one of three pilot countries within the UAFC initiative, in addition to Mozambique and Nigeria, and is now leading the way toward reaching the goal of ensuring women everywhere are supplied with this life-saving device.
You are probably already familiar with the FC2, a polyurethane sheath equipped with an inner ring that is inserted into the vagina and an outer ring that remains outside during sex. Now let me introduce you to the MedTech FC. Rather than an inner ring, the MedTech contains a soft sponge, which is easily bent in half and inserted into the vagina. The MedTech also has an outer ring, but rather than being round, it is triangular in shape and has the added advantage of rubbing against the clitoris during sex for extra stimulation. In fact, some marketing agencies and FC advocates use this in their promotion, even going so far as to sell the MedTech as a sex toy.
Cameroun isn’t using that marketing technique quite yet, but they have found that consumers would like to see the sponge come in pink and blue so it is hoped that new colors will be available to meet consumer needs one day soon. In the meantime, Camerounian women and their partners will still be able to choose between two types of female condoms, a feat since the FC2 has been dominating the market. Considering the thousands of male condoms available today, two FCs may not seem like a lot, but it’s a solid step in the right direction. In addition to selling these FCs to women in urban areas, the Association Camerounaise pour la Marketing Social, the Society for Women and AIDS in Africa and other local non-governmental organizations, will be working to distribute FCs for free to women who cannot afford to purchase them, including refugees and women living in prisons.
Jen Wilen is IWHC’s Program Officer for Africa. Read her bio here.
And be sure to check out more pictures of female condoms on the IWHC photostream on Flickr.