DKT International, an NGO, made itself known, yet again, by virtue of the coffee flavoured condoms they are marketing in Ethiopia. The man behind this charitable organisation is, Philip D. Harvey, with a peculiar background that has evolved around sex for about 40 years, trivial yet useful.
Philip D. Harvey, alias Phil Harvey, was born 1938 into a family of seven, in the state Illinois, United States. After obtaining a diploma in slavic languages and litterature from Harvard, and undecided with his future plans he decided to enlist in the army, where he served for two years, between 1961 and 62. Looking beyond the horizon, after his national service, he opted for another commitment, which involved humanitarian aid. The young man joined the American NGO, Care International, and was sent off to India, more precisely, Bombay and New Delhi. He spent five years working with Care and even became the organisation’s vice president in India. Upon his return to the United States, Philip Harvey, decided to undertake a master degree in family planning management (a subject he had in which he had developed a particular interest during his time in India) at the University of North Carolina. As part of his university programme, he started selling condoms by mail delivery throughout the whole country. It was a very profitable venture, however, illegal on the US soil. This was the beginning of Adam & Eve, a sex toy company, based in Hillsborough, North Carolina, that operated through catalogue sales which has Phil Harvey as president. In the meantime, the future sex tycoon – his company having become the number one in the domaine – starts an NGO named (PSI) Population Services International a force to reckon with in social marketing, along with his friend and business partner, Tim Black . Phil Harvey managed this entity for 7 years before moving on to another project. DKT International was officially born in 1989. DKT International also presided by Phil Harvey, consecrates between 5 and 6 million dollars a year in activities within the three African countries where it is implanted, i.e. Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt. Thanks to DKT International, condoms are now an integral part of the Ethiopian Military Kit. Also an author, Philip D. Harvey is married with two stepchildren.
Afrik-news.com : Making contraception accessible to a great number of people is DKT International’s driving force. Why this? Why not another venture ?
Philip D. Harvey : it donned on me whilst working in India in 1963 with Care International. We worked tirelessly to feed children and every year their numbers swelled as we realised that our end of year results got poorer and poorer due to the increase in the number of children. I finally gave in to the idea that it was perhaps not very thoughtful to send only food to the needy. They had to be given the means to be able to control birth in their families through family planning methods. India’s government was one of the first in the world to show an interest in this field, thus making it possible to introduce a national birth control programme. It is in this vein that i got involved. My commitment was born out of my own experience and contact with people on the subject matter. Helping third world countries to control births is one of the most important contributions richer countries could make.
Afrik-news.com: In concrete terms, what are your duties in the three African countries, i.e., Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt, where DKT International has been established?
Philip D. Harvey : Family Planning and Birth Control. In Ethiopia, especially, we have created awareness programmes to educate people on the HIV contamination through the promotion of the importance of condoms, which of course is also a means of controlling childbirth. To give you another example, in Sudan, the DKT International director organises training sessions to directed towards the initiation and education of medical doctors on l’avortement par aspiration abortion by suction, the most appropriate abortion method during the first few weeks of pregnancy. He realised that medical professionals had little or no training at all on this method, using medical kits meant for this type of operation, imported from India or Taiwan, as well as intra-uterine devices. The trained medical doctors, in turn, practice and transfer their acquired knowledge around the whole country.
Afrik-news.com : Is contraception a problem in Africa ?
Philip D. Harvey : Sub-saharan Africa has one of the lowest rates of contraceptive use in the world. In Asia, about 50% of all couples use some kind of contraception. Almost the same rate is recorded in both the northern and southern parts of Africa. In sub-saharan africa the rate is between 15 and 20 percent. The rate is however showing an upward trend and and is expected to reach the average world rate in about six or seven years.
Afrik-news.com : Are the difficultles you face in relation to family planning issues on the African continent any different from those that you encounter on other continents ?
Philip D. Harvey : There are no structured difficulties. Although there are few cases whereby some African religious leaders will oppose family planning whereas their religion itself is not an obstacle. The use of contraceptives in North Africa is very high.
Afrik-news.com : Are your duties getting easier or otherwise ?
Philip D. Harvey : It has never been very difficult, besides the fact that i just mentioned. The the most vehement opposition we came across was in the Philippines, nonetheless the present situation looks like what we experienced between 15 and 20 years ago. Never too tough and never too simple. Although i have the tendancy to say that Social Marketing, that is, our way of doing things in relation to family planning, plays a growing facilitating role. It is getting more and more acceptable to talk about contraception in more and more countries around the world. Criticism is still strong in countries like Vietnam, Sudan and even Egypt. But on the whole, mentalities are changing for the better.
Afrik-news.com : Do you intend to operate in other African countries in the coming years?
Philip D. Harvey : We are going to start activities in two or three countries in Africa, but we have not yet decided on the countries.
Afrik-news.com : you are among those who vigorously oppose new regulations from the US government which state that NGOs willing to continue receiving government subsidies must condemn prostitution. Does this irritate you?
Philip D. Harvey : First of all, asking NGOs to condemn prostitution makes it difficult if not outrightly impossible for us to continue working with sex workers who, above all else, need to be made aware of the AIDS threat. And then again, as a rule, the government’s interference with respect to the code of conduct of the NGOs it supports poses a problem.
Afrik-news.com : Why is the Bush administration growing even more conservative with anything related to sex ?
Philip D. Harvey : They are mad ! In the US there is a small insignificant group of persons who abhor sex, but who weild a lot of political power among others. More often than not, they are hard-lined christians, but not all American christians are against sex. Those people (mostly evangelicals) hold a certain amount of power in the Bush administration and encourage him to take such measures.
Afrik-news.com : Andy ou, how do you blend pornography and your charitable activities ?
Philip D. Harvey : lots of persons are surprised at this blend. There is a certain level of irony involved without it being a major contradiction. Profits generated from the sex industry in the United States helps to finance family planning in developing countries. The financial investors in this sector are very much at ease with this concept which makes me feel quite comfortable too. It does not bother me to promote safe sex in the US and use the profits to finance projects related to birth control.
Afrik-news.com : It is rumoured that you started Adam & Eve, one of the leaders in the porn industry, to help finance your charitable activities. How true is that?
Philip D. Harvey : It is a fact. Nevertheless, i think that Adam & Eve as a business entreprise is also a way of talking positively about sex in the United States. For example, both porn and soft porn films produced by Adam & Eve prohibit violence and are militantly in favour of safe sex. Medical check-ups of our actors are very rigorous. We are very proud of what we do because part of the profits goes into financing DKT International’s activities.
Afrik-news.com : The fight against HIV AIDS as well, but birth control marked your debut in 1969 and remains your priority. Is this a lifetime vocation?
Philip D. Harvey : You are right : it is my vocation, my carreer for a number of reasons. One of them is from the fact that the humanitarian impact on family planning is quite important. Helping couples to plan and forecast the number of children they want to have contributes to the family’s well being. It translates into a substantial amount of money geared towards the education of children. Birth control is also, in my opinion, a good ivestment towards the development of a country. There is no negative impact. And i have not observed any in the past 25 years, contrary to other humanitarian activities. For example, when too mcuh food is sent, it contributes to a price reduction in local agricultural products. Finally, on a more personal note, it is a permanently controversial sector and i love it (laughing under his breath).
Afrik-news.com : Did your big family contribute to your commitment towards family planning ?
Philip D. Harvey : Everyone of us was yearned and planned for. I have nothing against big families, all the more since more people wish to have fewer children. Under the condition that the births are planned, desired and that women have a right to their bodies.