India’s Nirodh condom gets facelift on its pack
New Delhi, Jan 23:Fifty years after it launched its first condom brand to tackle the population problem, the government has finally given the family planning aid a ‘sensual’ makeover. The old shabby white plastic packaging was seemingly putting people off, with an abysmal number picking them up from family care and ART (Anti Retroviral Therapy) Centres where these are handed out free.
The new condom packets feature a couple in comfortable clothes getting hot and heavy in a house. Commercially sold condoms have explicit pictures of couples on the packaging to attract customers, leading the government to borrow the idea for its in-house product.
“Despite door-to-door counselling, the response was cold. There were two main reasons – people are too shy about asking for condoms and the packaging of the condoms failed to attract. Believing that packaging was a problem that was easier to tackle, the National Aids Control Organisation (NACO), which distributes the condoms free, came up with the plan to revamp the look,” said an official from the family planning department of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. The government hands out 6.5 crore condoms every year in its safe sex campaign.
“The earlier white packets looked like medicines and people were averse to using the condoms. It is human nature,” said a social worker from the ART centre in Rajawadi hospital.
“To revamp the packaging, the government has increased the cost of production of the condoms. Investing in creativity will need more money. A private condom packet sells at R10-20, while Nirodh is given out free at hospitals and distributed among sex workers, drivers, LGBT communities and slums, where people can’t afford condoms,” said an official from NACO, seeking anonymity.
Social workers welcomed the move saying it would help convince people to use Nirodh more.
“Customers of sex workers often refuse to use Nirodh as they think it will affect their performance. And, even though the quality is the same people still prefer commercial condoms over Nirodh. But, this better presentation is helping the government convince people that the function of both the commercially available and government-supplied condoms are the same,” said Anson, a social activist working for the betterment of sex workers in Kamathipura.
S Katkat from Target Intervention from Maharashtra State Aids Control Society said that after the change in the presentation, more people have been picking up the condoms.
“Earlier, people used to be put off by the poor presentation of the Nirodh packets. It was obvious that it was a government-supplied condom. But now, people associate packaging with better quality, although the quality was always good,” he said.
Dr Padmaja Kesker, health officer of BMC said, “Anything that is presented in a better way always attracts people hence so packaging was changed. We always judge a thing by its cover to convince people to use it.”