When the demand for female condoms went up recently, health workers were expressing hope that finally its use was becoming popular with Ghanaian women.
They were wrong.The Mirror has learnt that there is a developing trend in the Odododiodoo area in Accra, particularly James Town and Bukom,where many patrons of female condoms have been using them for wrong purposes.
While some people use the plastic rings on the tips of the condoms as bracelets,some seamstresses are also using the rings for designs in dresses they make for customers.
Random interviews with some women using the condom ring bracelets indicated that they did not know how it came on the market but they had seen others using them.
A 19-year-old mother of two who declined to mention her name said:“I have never used the female condom before. I'm scared to use it.But I prefer to use the rings as bracelets because I have seen some of my friends wearing them”.
A visit to some pharmacies in the Accra metropolis revealed that there is a rush for the female condoms.It began in June this year and got to its peak in August.
Alarmed by the rate at which the condoms are being misused,some pharmacies have adopted the method of selling only one condom to a customer at a time.
The investigations further revealed that young women between the ages of 15 and 29 usually visit the pharmacies and buy three to seven pieces of the condom at a time.
They end up cutting the unwanted parts leaving the plastic ends which they use as bracelets.Mr Clement Abankwa, a pharmacist at S.Asanti Chemicals in Accra,told this reporter that before June,not too many people were patronising the female condoms.
All of a sudden many are buying them.According to Mr Abankwa these days he sells over 40 pieces a day compared to the two or three pieces a day he sold previously.
He further revealed that some seamstresses in the area also buy as many as 15 pieces a day,cut the unwanted parts and cover the plastic ends with cloths and use them as designs in the necks of kaba cloths.
Mr Owusu Ansah, also a pharmacist,described the phenomenon as worrying and hoped the situation would change soon, considering the campaign against HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.
Dr(Mrs)Henrietta Odoi-Agyarko of the Reproductive Health Unit at the Ministry of Health described the new development as unfortunate.
She gave the assurance that education on the use of female condoms would be intensified in order to create the right awareness among women.
A source at the Ministry of Health has revealed that government spends millions of dollars to purchase the condoms.
Each is sold at subsidised prices to the Ghana Social Marketing Foundation which also sells them at a moderate price to the public.
According to the source,patrons must at least realise how much is used in the purchase of the condoms to save women from any diseases and revert to their proper use of the condoms.