Last Thursday and Friday, September 10-11, representatives from UNFPA, Leah-Mari Richards and Mario Aguilar conducted a successful two-day workshop at Carl & Sons Conference Center on "Reproductive Health Commodity Security and Comprehensive Condom Programming."
Those in attendance at the workshop ranged from pharmacy workers, condom distributors, social workers, youth organizations, women’s organizations and faith-based groups. During the two days lots of interesting information was exchanged between the facilitators and the attendees of the workshop. The main focus of the workshop was to introduce the new female condom and discuss its benefits, with the aim of empowering women and increasing their opportunities to make wiser decisions about their sexual and reproductive health.
On day one of the workshop, facilitator Mario Aguilar made a presentation on the Linkages between Sexual Reproductive Health and HIV as a means of showing how reproductive health is linked to HIV. An overview of the Male and Female Condom as a means of increasing awareness about the two; Demonstrations of male and female condoms and negotiation techniques were also discussed. During this presentation, attendees were trained on how to properly use a male and female condom. A group exercise was given at the end of day one on how to respond to common excuses about not using a condom.
On day two participants were introduced to comprehensive condom programming. During these sessions, participants were brought up to speed on how to increase awareness and build demand for condoms; sustaining supply of condoms; and increasing attendees understanding about comprehensive condom programming with a particular emphasis on maintaining support of condom programmes.
At the end of the workshop, participants broke into groups to develop a condom action plan that targeted specific barriers to condom programming, after which each group presented their work.
UNFPA will now make a report on the suggestions that were given to them at the end of the workshop and the information obtained during the assessment meetings on September 9 will be compiled into one report for St. Maarten.
Dr. Daphne Illis, a participant from Public Health, Social Development & Labor section Policy, Epidemiology & Prevention stated: The presentation on the history of the condom was very interesting along with the female condom demonstration. Women can now empower themselves, and take more initiative by having the female condom, and not have to depend on their partner. The fact that you can insert the female condom eight hours before means that you are already prepared, and their will be no surprises."