Lessons Learned from the Woman’s Condom Introduction in Zambia and Malawi

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The Expanding Effective Contraceptive Options (EECO) project, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), seeks to meet the needs of the 214 million women in developing countries who do not wish to become pregnant, yet are not using a modern method of family planning (FP).3 Many of these women also face a high risk of HIV acquisition, especially in Southern and East Africa. See Figure 1, right, for method-related reasons for non-use of modern contraceptives, which include: side effects, infrequent sex, breastfeeding, and a need for discreet methods.4 Studies suggest that the critical factors for meeting women’s contraceptive needs are: access to a broad choice of methods, improvement in the quality of information and services available, a consistent supply of contraceptive products, and the reduction of social barriers to use. Women seeking protection from HIV have very few options, often only male condoms or abstinence – both of which can be difficult for women to negotiate with male partners. Female condoms are the only dual protection option that can be controlled by the woman herself without the need for action by her partner.

Recognizing that the successful introduction of new products involves multiple players and an understanding of market dynamics, WCG assembled a team of organizations covering the entire product life cycle – from development to end use – to support the successful introduction of the Woman’s Condom. EECO determines how best to improve the value chain by coordinating market players (e.g., product developers, researchers, market analysts, and others), sharing information, and conducting stakeholder advocacy. This value chain approach, together with a focus on activities that are driven by consumer insights, can be applied to bring any new reproductive health product to market.

EECO product introduction takes place in five stages, resulting in pilot introduction programs in each country. This case study focuses on the lessons learned throughout each stage of the Woman’s Condom introduction in Zambia and Malawi.