Launch UAFC programme in Cameroon
On the 25th of November the UAFC project in Cameroon has been launched during the official opening of the Cameroonian week against AIDS. Around thousand young people enjoyed performances of famous Cameroonian musicians and speeches were given by the Mayor of Yaoundé II, the director of ACMS, the coordinator UAFC Joint Programme, the Minister of Women’s and Family Affairs and the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health called young women between fifteen and thirty years to use the female condom. He argued that especially young women can play an important role towards a HIV free Cameroon.
Highlight of the launch was the presentation of a about female condoms in Cameroon. A collective of famous African musicians – among which Manu Dibango – promote the use of the female condom in a very swinging way. In the forthcoming period the clip together with other promotion materials can be seen on the television in Cameroon to attract public attention for the female condom and the UAFC project.
In the past months hundreds of educators have been trained in the different regions of Cameroon where the female condom will be introduced. Furthermore the supply and distribution system is organised to guarantee availability of the female condom in different selling points such as pharmacies, small grocery stores and hair dressers.
Repacking and testing
After arrival in Cameroon the female condoms are repacked in the warehouse of ACMS in Yaoundé.
Samples of the female condoms will then be tested in LANACOME – the Cameroonian laboratory for testing the quality of medicines. Within the framework of the UAFC project a test laboratory for female condoms is under instalment. This facilitates the Cameroonian government to react fast on developments in the market for new female condoms. If new products appear on the market the quality can be tested in Cameroon and this makes the country less dependent on the long quality procedures of international agencies.
From the warehouse the female condoms are distributed in manageable boxes to the hundreds of distribution and selling point.
To monitor the distribution and education system a support structure has been put in place. In every Cameroonian region where the UAFC program is active there are so-called supervising organisations, which supervise and coach community based organisations (CBOs). The CBOs on their turn supervise and coach hair saloons which play an important role in the education and information system.
Supervising and coaching
The Development Promotion Space (Depro-Space) is such a supervising organisation for UAFC based in Yaoundé II. Depro Space-targets at health promotion and poverty affiliation of the rural population and especially of youngsters.
According to Michel Martial Yene, director of Depro-Space, the female condom contributes directly to the goals of the organisation. Health and poverty issues are related to HIV and STI prevention and family planning. Therefore he and his colleagues decided to play an active role in the UAFC project. Depro-Space does not only supervise the CBOs, but also plays itself an active role in the education targeting women and men in the neighbourhood. Michel Marchial Yene says about the education: ‘Of course we have to create a good atmosphere for communication about the female condom. It is not a banana or so, it is a very specific product. We have experience in discussing sensitive issues like aids and we also introduce the female condom when we speak about aids and family planning. Of course we also speak about the male condom and we support people to choose the type of condom that they prefer the most’.
Santo Domingo is a community based health centre located in Yaoundé II. The health centre provides primary health care and services for family planning. As in other CBOs 12 educators are trained within Santo Domingo to speak about the female condoms. Every Monday in the afternoon Santo Domingo organises education sessions to discuss the female condom. Fulbert Kenfack Tiofack, director of Santo Domingo says that the people are curious about the female condom. ‘At first people often think that the female condom is a complex tool, but when you explain it properly, they understand how to use it and like to try it.’
Hair saloons play an important role in the education and sale of female condom. Mireille Njapndounke and Rose Marie Eteme work in a hair saloon in Yaoundé II. They both successfully finished a training as female condom educator and received a certificate for that. In the saloon they actively promote the use of the female condom and provide detailed information about the use to their clients. During the communication about the condom, sex and men humour and laughter is combined with intimate talk about sexuality and relations.