From: Sola Ojo, Kaduna
A Social Consultant, Ibrahim Kannah Terri, has said that the Nigerian Urban Reproductive Health Initiative (NURHI) child spacing campaign project has reduced maternal deaths in Kaduna State.
The consultant said this during a review meeting for 300 consultants and community mobilisers held at NAF club, in Kaduna, on Tuesday.
Terri added that the project has also reduced new born and under five death rate in the state because child spacing has become a social norm among the women and their husbands.
NURHI (II) is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with the vision to eliminate supply and demand barriers to contraceptive use and make child spacing a social norm in Nigeria.
During the phase I (2009-2014), NURHI operated in six cities (FCT, Ibadan, Ilorin, Kaduna, Benin and Zaria) and significantly contributed to the increase in child spacing prevalence rate (CPR) in these cities as captured in the 2013 National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS).
Phase II of the project, which commenced in October 2015, is being implemented in three States: five years (2015-2020) in Lagos and Kaduna States, and three years (2015-2018) in Oyo State, built on the premise that demand for family planning is a requirement for increased contraceptive use therefore increasing demand, which will cause improvement in contraceptive service provision.
The consultant, who is in charge of Kachia, Jema’a and Zango Kataff local government areas of the state, testified that the NURHI’s efforts to bridge the gap of maternal mortality rate as well as supporting the government where it could has been a huge success.
“With the concept to make child spacing a social norm in Kaduna, we have been able to really made it a social norm because women who were hitherto apathy are now talking about it and encouraging one another. To us, that was like taking ten steps at a go.
“But it is important to add that, we still have the challenge of myth and misconception because some people still belief in what people say. Catholic for example don’t buy the idea. So we need religious leaders to help us in this regard.
“NURHI has done very well to change those myth and misconception about child spacing here in Kaduna. They ensured that, people at grassroots are massively involved to ensure the sustainability of the programme. Some pastors who are part of the interfaith are already helping us. “, he explained.
On what he was taking home from the peer review he said, “adopting strategy from other zones like showing videos in churches after the service will be extended to my zone. The idea is to have as many strategies as we can because the end result is what really matters and we are making progress in this campaign. So, I’m seeing the possibility of taking that home”.
Another consultant in charge of Kaura, Giwa and Igabi local government areas, Ms Sabuwa Yahaya said people have accepted childbirth spacing and know its importance.
“I am happy that people have accepted, save lives and bring joy to many families. The rate of mortality has reduced very well.
“Coming together of the social mobilisers from the 15 local government areas is to interact and we do that after every three months to learn from one another the challenges and the way forward for more results”.
She, however, advised people to go back to the facilities in case they notice any side effect which will be addressed. “Many people don’t know that, there is a way forward”.
A social mobiliser in charge of Soba local government, Shittu Iliyasu Maigana shared with other participants how NURHI has been able to change the narrative about child spacing in his local government to the extent that even men now supporting and accompanying their wives to the facilities for counseling and up taking of child spacing commodities.
According to him, “we have really tried in changing the mindset of people in my area. What I do is to move from house to house informing them about the child spacing. It was not easy when we started but due to persistency, we are gaining more attention.
“In fact, some people would deliberately insult you just to make you angry. But due to experience, we have learned to cope with such people without generating any unnecessary argument.
“We are praying that, the organization has more resources so the programme could be extended to other wards in my local government though many are coming to access the service from other wards”, he prayed.
In her own assessment, Community Mobiliser in charge of Chickun local government area, Deborah Francis revealed that, people no longer afraid of child spacing as they now talk about it freely among themselves, “some of them will tell you that, they now have sex with their husbands without any fear”.
“NURHI has done well. Women now space their children. Unlike before when you have some of them given birth every year, that story has changed now. I’m talking about my own area of coverage with all boldness that the programme has been a success.
“Our leaders are really trying. They have listening ear when we call them and that is really serving as encouragement for us who are on the field. When you have a complaint and you call them, they take their time to listen to you very well and act accordingly”.
She however suggested increase funding as contingencies like transportation and others keep changing over time while the allowances remain same.
“But in the long run, NURHI is doing a lot to have more women and their children surviving the complications around childbirth in Kaduna state. We are with them and we can tell you the true pictures of things”, she commended.