The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are on a search to offer $100, 000 grant to anyone who can come up with an innovative condom re-invention into what they have called the Next Generation Condom. This next generation condom concept is connoted by characteristics that would improve the uptake and ease of use such as its ability to:
- Significantly preserve or enhance sexual pleasure
- Improve male and female condoms usage e.g. with better packaging or designs
- And can possibly address or overcome cultural barriers
A successful innovation that is proven to be efficient after the $100, 000 grant can further be considered for Phase II funding of up to $1 million.
The crux of this condom re-invention gist is summarized like this: “Condoms have been in use for about 400 years yet they have undergone very little technological improvement in the past 50 years… Material science and our understanding of neurobiology has undergone revolutionary transformation in the last decade yet that knowledge has not been applied to improve the product attributes of one of the most ubiquitous and potentially underutilized products on earth. New concept designs with new materials can be prototyped and tested quickly. Large-scale human clinical trials are not required. Manufacturing capacity, marketing, and distribution channels are already in place”.
HUGE MARKET OPPORTUNITY: As they noted, “The current rate of global production is 15 billion units/year with an estimated 750 million users and a steadily growing market. Condoms have almost universal product recognition. There are few places on earth where condoms are not recognized or not available.”
THE PROBLEM: As old as male condoms are, there is still a “lack of perceived incentive for consistent use”. Why? This is what the GUYS think:
- Condoms decrease sexual pleasure
- Why should he “choose” to have sex for less pleasure?
- And to think that the sheaths have to be worn on just right before intercourse
- And as for the unplanned pregnancies and STIs/STDs or HIV? – he’ll probably worry about that later or better still, maybe SHE should be the one worrying about that…
A currently existing alternative option is the FEMALE CONDOM but unfortunately is a lot more cumbersome and wrong usage is pretty much a waste, especially given the fact that it is typically more expensive than the regular male condoms anyway. The only difference really is that since it is the female who gets to wear them on, the ‘negotiation’ for its use is a lot easier.
Oh well, as far as Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is concerned, the fact that there is actually a “need for negotiation precisely illustrates the barrier preventing greater use”, which is what this $100, 000 grant seeks to address.
THE SOCIAL GOOD: “When used properly, condoms reliably protect females from pregnancy and both partners from numerous STIs, including HIV transmission, making them a prime example of a multi-purpose prevention technology (MPT).
Here is a breakdown of many other good things with Condoms:
- No prescription required! –easily purchased over the counter.
- No associated adverse effects – something you can hardly say about any other Contraceptive or STI-preventive product.
- Condom use is completely User-controlled, User-applied and they are really simple to use, easy to move around with.
It is all of these good things and more that qualify male condoms as the perfect MPT product, especially for low resource settings.
Oddly enough, this is a little spin from conventional wisdom back here at home where there is an increasing push for the use of Female Condoms and it is now being distributed for FREE in hospitals across Nigeria. But please note: Given the above mentioned challenge with the ‘less masculine’ use of Condoms, the obvious idea here is help get more women to take the initiative by themselves!
Hopefully, this $100, 000 incentive will make it a lot easier for the women when the men start wanting the Condom!
What do you think of this idea? Share your opinion with the Comment Box below