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WHO approves China made female condom

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Beijing: A female condom jointly produced by a Chinese company and two global NGOs has been prequalified as safe and effective by the World Health Organisation and the UN Population Fund, allowing it to be widely distributed to the public.

The condom was jointly developed by international NGO Programme for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH) and Conrad N Hilton Foundation along with its local research partners who tested the device with people in four countries.

The prequalification of the condom’s safety and quality marks a critical step forward in expanding options for women seeking to protect themselves from pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease, including HIV/AIDS, state-run China Daily quoted the condom developer as saying. The approval of the female condom allows UN agencies and other international purchasers to obtain the device for distribution to the public sector.

Female condoms currently make up only a tiny portion of the global condom market, although demand is growing, it said.

“This milestone is a testament to the power of cross-sector collaboration,” Steve Davis, president of PATH. With funding from the Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs, PATH established the Protection Options for Women Product Development Partnership, aimed at building a supply-and-demand model for the female condom.

In 2008, it transferred production to the Dahua Medical Apparatus Corp of Shanghai, China. As the manufacturer, we are honoured that more women and men across the world may get expanded access to this new tool,” Chen Hongxuan, the company’s vice-president said.

Chen said the African market now provides a major share of its overall sales volume.

In many countries, including China, the female condom is on the government’s purchase list and is typically distributed by local family-planning groups.

The recently approved model branded O’lavie in China may provide more protection from skin-to-skin transmitted diseases such as herpes and the human papilloma virus, the report said.

Female condoms account for approximately 0.2 per cent of global condom sales, according to the data from the Reproductive Health Interchange, a reproductive health procurement and information service managed by the UN Population Fund.

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