By Emma Kakololo WINDHOEK Namibia became the second country in Africa – after South Africa – to produce condoms with the launch of a new male condom “Smile” as part of its efforts to stem the HIV pandemic that is devastating the continent. Launching “Smile” yesterday, the Deputy Health and Social Services Minister Petrina Haingura said the name was deliberately chosen for a good reason, that all sexually active people will put a smile on their faces and gain the courage to confidently make use of this superb product. She said numerous complaints from the public that condoms previously provided by Government lacked quality and produced “unpleasant smells” compelled Government to produce a condom textured for extra stimulation and sexual excitement, while at the same time providing maximum safety, security and protection against sexually transmitted diseases. “We have decided to produce and distribute for free, an attractively packaged condom that we believe will appeal to all,” she stated. In the same vein, she appealed to Namibians to take pride in their own product. “Let’s take pride in ourselves and the positive progression and development of this beautiful nation. Let’s fight AIDS together and let’s bring the smile back to our faces by using Smile every time,” Haingura urged. She said although all condoms are virtually of the same quality, the Government realised that the packaging makes a difference. “We are also aware of the fact that free distribution may be criticised, but our main aim is to ensure that those who cannot afford socially marketed condoms have access to condoms when they need them,” she stressed. The distribution of male condoms started way back in 1990, and later in the mid-90s Government embarked on a partnership with NASOMA and the Social Marketing Association (SMA) to market the condoms. Using the social marketing strategies NASOMA and SMA also assisted in the distribution of condoms provided by Government while at the same time distributing branded condoms such as Cool Ryder, Sense and Maximum Gold. She said although condom distribution statistics show an increase in the demand for them, gaps and weaknesses in the distribution network are among the drawbacks being addressed by the Ministry of Health and Social Services. She added that the new product would be distributed alongside Femidom to allow couples the benefit of opting for either the male or the female condom.
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