Angela Sibanda, Chronicle Reporter
THE Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council (ZNFPC) is moving around Bulawayo suburbs distributing condoms, mostly to youths as part of its Sexual Health and Reproduction campaign.
The week-long campaign was launched on Monday, a day after the commemoration of the International Condom Day.
The International Condom Day was launched in 2009 by Aids Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest HIV/AIDS organisation in the world.
The AHF strategically chose February 13th, the day before Valentine’s Day, a day where lovers are likely to be engaging in sexual activities and this year’s commemorations are running under the theme ‘Always in fashion’.
Condoms are unique from other contraception methods in that they are a barrier method that provides dual protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV as well as unintended pregnancies.
Statistics show that female condom uptake remains low in Bulawayo province.
According to the National Aids Council
(NAC) 2021 annual provincial report, close to 3 million male condoms were distributed compared to only 90 000 in Bulawayo last year.
Marketing and Communications Officer for Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council for Bulawayo and Matabeleland North Provinces, Mr Mission Gwafa said reasons for the low female condom uptake are based on socio and cultural beliefs and taboos that make it a man’s job to source condoms and negotiate for sex.
“People choose the male condoms because of the social and cultural beliefs that make it a man’s duty to source condoms. And there is always a stigma around women who buy and carry around condoms.
“Women depend on their male counterparts for condoms and even if they collect or buy them, they choose male condoms,” he said.
During the family council’s Sexual Health and Reproduction campaign around Bulawayo province, the organisation provided free services related to sexual reproductive health and family planning and advocated for safer sex during the month of love.
Mr Gwafa said this year’s condom distribution was targeting youths and they were moving around youth centres.
“The main aim is to empower people especially adolescents on sexual rights and their choices in opting for safer sex. And during the campaign, we will explore how the condom cuts across all HIV prevention strategies.
The program for youth centres will spread through the 15 youth centres in the western suburbs of Bulawayo where free services will be offered,” he said.
“The program aims to destigmatise condoms, empower young people to make the right choices on sexual issues and to improve access to quality free condoms.
We will also be offering free IUVD and free Sayana Press contraceptives to all eligible and needy women and girls of reproductive age.”
He also said the program aims to educate young people and women to be able to distinguish between love and abuse that comes on days such as Valentine’s Day.
‘A dialogue on issues of sex, sexual rights and consent will be conducted daily at the youth centres to create awareness and knowledge on such and to try and empower youth to guard against sexual abuse that comes disguised under love especially on Valentine’s Day,” he said.
The campaigns started yesterday in Mzilikazi suburb and moved to Silwane Youth centre in Pumula suburb.
ZNFPC is targeting to distribute 30 000 male condoms and 5 000 female condoms over this week.