WOMEN in rural areas are now realising the importance of using contraceptives to stop unwanted and teenage pregnancies in the country, says Minister for Women Dr Jiko Luveni.
This is noted in a recent report on condom distribution by the Ministry of Women's reproductive health unit which has been established with the help of UNFPA.
The report shows that out of the 12,960 male condoms distributed in the country by the health unit, 2794 were sold and out of the 50 female condoms distributed, 20 were sold to women.
Dr Luveni said the strength that lay in the female condoms was that the control of fertility was on the women, as they made the decisions on whether to have a baby or not, unlike the male condoms where the control was on the males.
"So we have been struggling and I know the Ministry of Health has also been struggling to promote female condoms to give control to women and this has not been working for so many years now maybe because we did not have the technical people to show them how to use it," Dr Luveni said.
"But we are thankful that through the project that we have initiated here, it is actually taking this idea directly to the rural women and speaking to them on a one to one basis has generated the interest to use condoms.
"Twenty female condoms being sold in the country is a progress for us here in Fiji, because previously people would get it for free.
"But the fact that they are being sold shows that communities are actually buying it which means they are using it."
She said the 1200 condoms sold by the health unit meant 1200 unwanted pregnancies were being prevented.