Awka – A three-day training on media advocacy for effective family planning in Anambra State, on Tuesday kicked off in Awka.
The event has as its participants, media personnel, social media influencers and information officers of Ministries, Departments and Agencies in Anambra State.
The training, organized by Development Communications Network (DEVCOMS) in partnership with The Challenge Initiative (TCI), aims to empower participants with the right knowledge to be able to drive the advocacy for increased uptake of Family Planning in Anambra State.
It also looked to demystify myths and misconceptions mitigating the proper uptake of the initiative by citizens of the state, while evolving strategies to better engage stakeholders to own the campaign.
The State Commissioner for Health, Vincent Okpala who was represented by the Director, Public Health and Disease Control in the Ministry, Dr Uchechukwu Onyejimbe observed that for people to access health services and benefits that accrue to them, they need to be aware of their existence.
According to him, the idea behind targeting the information managers is to ensure proper information dissemination among the citizenry.
“A major constraint to effective uptake of Family Planning initiative is lack of access to information and we all know the critical role the media play in this regard. The country has very significant budgetary provision for family planning but a major observation is that only an insignificant fraction of our population has been able to access the services as they should because they are not aware. That is why this training is very important,’’ he said.
In her presentation, the State Family Planning Coordinator, Chioma Okedo, said family planning which is one of the aspects of safe motherhood, is a global approach towards reducing maternal motherhood.
According to her, the initiative looks to ensure that every woman of reproductive age has access to family planning methods, as a way of reducing deaths related to childbearing.
In her words, “Family planning is the right of every woman of reproductive age that is from 15 to 49 years. There are religious and cultural barriers to family planning and these have inhibited uptake of family planning methods.”
For Aneotah Egbe, the TCI Program Coordinator in Anambra State, the TCI is partnering on the project, exploring its platforms including the media, community structures and other key stakeholders to get the people better informed to develop an objective perspective to the benefits of family planning and be able to voluntarily embrace family planning.
Egbe also spoke on the understanding of the TCI Business Unusual Model to Family Planning.
“The Business Unusual model is a slogan for the TCI projects which aims to support governments to strengthen its institutions. What we do is to put the government in the driver’s seat and lead from behind. We build capacity, we coach and mentor for the core government personnel to take over at the longer run. Over time, TCI has to step aside, leaving its features behind. We also leave governments with access to TCI University where they can refer and a call away, we can still provide virtual support. In doing this, we help to build a critical mass of skilled government manpower to help them deliver on their core mandate which is service to the people. What we believe is that when things are doing right, there is greater confidence in the system,” he said.
On his part, a Media Development Facilitator for DEVCOMS, Mayowa Adeniran said family planning is a development issue that needs to be looked at holistically, if the problems that arise from the inability of the people to uptake the plan such as population explosion and other health challenges will be addressed.
“If you look at this critically, in Nigeria, there are conflicting figures as to the population of the people and what this amounts to is that government cannot plan for the citizens.
Therefore, citizens need to by themselves, look for ways out. Down to the family, couples must collectively realize that they need to give their children the best they can and with the present economic downturn, there is no way they can achieve that if they give birth to many children. If families continue to produce children they can’t take care of, they may eventually become a menace to society as criminals among many others. So, family planning must be approached with an attitudinal change from the previous. We are talking about full access, full choice, which means that those involved must agree to voluntarily undertake the methods,” he maintained.
Participants at the training had the opportunity to ask questions on some grey areas as regards uptake of family planning.