It’s 2021. We can order everything and anything online; and yet accessing vital, everyday sexual health products in South Africa is a long, tedious and expensive process. Consider the current system women go through to procure birth control: take time off work for an appointment at an awkward time, queue in traffic, flip through two-year-old magazines in a waiting room, pay the doctor, queue in more traffic to the pharmacy, pay for more parking, stand in line, pay for the prescription… and repeat the last steps every month to collect your medication, and repeat the whole process every three to six months when your prescription runs out. On average the whole ordeal can cost around R1,200 for three months and several grey hairs. Seems a bit outdated, doesn’t it?
Inconvenience and cost aren’t the only factors limiting access to sexual healthcare. Across South Africa, contraceptives, menstruation and sexual health carry stigmas that aren’t easy to shake. A lack of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) education provokes shaming, fear and sexual violence, and furthers the taboo of topics that need open conversations and acceptance within our communities.
These obstacles are further exacerbated by the effects of Covid-19. Job losses have caused financial strains on individuals and their families, SRH clinics were closed to make room for Covid patients, services halted and fundings cut. Additionally, the fear of the pandemic and risk of infection has deterred patients from attending their regular check-ups, doctor appointments and collecting medication from pharmacies.
Founded by London lawyer Alexander Schmid, who has returned to his home country to address the above problems after an ex-girlfriend complained about the tedious and expensive road to birth control, Contro plans to tackle the inequalities South Africans face to access sexual healthcare. Partnered with a team of skilled developers and forward-thinking, specialist doctors, Schmid has designed and built a game-changing online platform that is about to revolutionise the healthcare industry in South Africa. Launching nationwide in partnership with South Africa's largest national courier pharmacy Medipost, Contro simplifies and streamlines an affordable route to sexual healthcare for all.
Seems too good to be true! Customers choose their product of choice on Contro’s webpage, answer a short and secure online health questionnaire, and book a once-off video consultation with one of Contro’s licenced and registered Partner Doctors at a time that suits them. The Partner Doctor will assess and answer any questions the customer may have, before prescribing, in their expert impartial opinion, the medication best suited to the customer’s individual needs and financial capabilities. Working as a ‘cancel anytime’ subscription-based model, customers’ medication is dispensed and delivered free of charge by Medipost every month in discreet packaging. Contro’s platform automatically sends the prescriptions to the Partner Doctors for approval, saving the customer from frequently re-visiting the doctor. All in all, Contro’s platform can save their customers on average R400 every three months while offering you the same security and on-hand support you’d get from your family doctor.
Furthermore, Contro’s service is discreet, non-judgemental and non-biased. All Partner Doctors are qualified, currently practising and personally vetted based on their aligned belief to increase accessibility to sexual healthcare. Customers can also use their existing medical aid plan to cover their medication costs.
“74% of millennials prefer telehealth visits to in-person doctors exams” (GlobalMed)
The launch of Contro coincides with a general global trend popularising telemedicine and online medical services. Utilising technology allows for the provision of remote services aimed at replacing or supplementing existing in-person clinical offerings. Telemedicine primarily offers convenience from the comfort of your own home and is cost-effective, while still offering the highest-quality medical assessments. The ease of online communications also increases patient engagement by encouraging more frequent conversations between patient and doctor, while simultaneously making follow-ups effortless. The value of a platform like Contro to a country like South Africa, where existing processes are outdated, expensive and time-consuming, could mark the seminal inauguration of a much-needed modernised medical offering across the country.
Launching with an initial offering of birth control and erectile dysfunction treatment, Contro facilitates access to over 35 brands of contraceptive pill, as well as the patch and vaginal ring, plus various ED medications through their Partner Pharmacy, Medipost. Contro also plans to expand their offering to other sexual health and confidence products to give their customer’s access to hair loss treatment, preventative HIV treatment (PrEP), STI testing kits and thrush treatment. Contro is driven to change the negative narrative surrounding these products, and empower every individual with the choice of protecting themselves and their sexual health at any stage of their life.
Contro is an online prescription and delivery service for sexual health and confidence products. Launched in May 2021, Contro’s game-changing subscription-based platform offers customers an affordable, convenient and discreet means to access and take control of their sexual healthcare. Contro is headquartered in Cape Town, South Africa.