By Brighton Chiseva
MASVINGO – The Minstry of Health and Child Care has heeded calls to rebrand the publicly-available Panther condom which is distributed by the Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council (ZNFPC).
The condom, which is popularly known as ‘MaDembare’ because of its blue and white package synonymous to Dynamos Football Club, has been criticized by many people who used it saying it was too plain and unappealing.
Others claim that the condoms do not have the comfort accorded by other condom brands which are sold in retail stores.
ZNFPC Masvingo provincial manager Abyssinia Vhoko said the issue of rebranding was highlighted by the youths and other stakeholders including Sex Worker Advocacy Group (SWAG) who said men despised the freely distributed condom.
Vhoko said the Panther condom was going to be replaced by a blue and gold strip, adding that the replacement will be a gradual process to ensure a smooth transition and giving the consumers a choice.
“Programming is all about interfacing with consumer needs so moving forward we anticipate our consumers to continue practicing safer sex and condom use.
“Our main objective is to increase the provincial per capita condom rate from the current 7.5 percent to 12 and the mosaic nature of our province makes it important to ensure that quality and free condoms are available and accessible because of the high volumes of students and young people,” said Vhoko.
Per capita condom rate is the number of condoms at the disposal to an individual who is sexually active to use per year.
Condoms offer dual protection against the risk of unintended pregnancy and the transmission of HIV and other STIs between partners.
SWAG had earlier urged authorities to rebrand the condom brand and add more lubrication to improve its appeal and strength.
Statistics show that Zimbabwe is one of the countries with high condom use in Africa and the world but many people look down upon freely-distributed condoms which they regard as of poor quality.