A 3-Day training on media advocacy for effective family planning in the state has been concluded with a call on journalists to use their reportage to promote issues of family planning.
The event has as its participants as media personnel, social media influencers and information officers of Ministries, Departments and Agencies in the state.
The training, organised by Development Communications Network (DEVCOMS) in partnership with ‘The Challenge Initiative (TCI), aims at empowering participants with the right knowledge to be able to drive advocacy for increased participation in 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.
Commissioner for Health, Dr Vincent Okpala observed that for people to access health services and benefits that would accrue to them and the need to be aware of the existence of such services.
According to him, the idea behind targeting information managers is to ensure constant information dissemination on family planning.
He identified major constraints to effective participation in family planning services to include a lack of access to information noting the critical role of the media in that regard.
“The country has significant budgetary provision for family planning but observed that only an insignificant fraction of the population access the services,’’ he said.
The commissioner was represented by the Director, Public Health and Disease Control, Dr Uchechukwu Onyejimbe.
In a presentation, State Family Planning Coordinator, Mrs Chioma Okedo, said family planning was one of the aspects of safe motherhood and a global approach toward reducing maternal mortality.
According to her, the initiative is to ensure that every woman of childbearing age has access to family planning methods, as a way of reducing unplanned pregnancies.
“Family planning is the right of every woman of reproductive age, from 15 to 49 years.’’
Mrs Okedo underscored some barriers to uptakes of family planning methods by women to include religious, cultural and personal barriers.
Earlier, Mr Aneotah Egbe, State TCI Programme Coordinator, the programme was partnering on the project by exploring its platforms including the media, community structures and other key stakeholders.
“It is also for the people to be well informed, to develop an objective perspective to the benefits of family planning and be able to voluntarily embrace family planning methods.’’
Mr 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 in the long 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 to deliver on their core mandate, which is service to the people.
“What we believe is that when things are going right, there is greater confidence in the system,” he said.
A Media Development Facilitator for DEVCOMS, Mr Mayowa Adeniran said that family planning was a development issue that needed to be looked at holistically.
“If the problems that arise from the inability of the people to accept the plan such as population explosion and some health challenges will be addressed.
“When 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 the government cannot plan for the citizens.”
Mr Adeniran explained that couples must collectively realise that they need to give their children the best they could and with the present economic downturn.
“So, there is no way they can achieve that, if they give birth to many children. If families continue to produce children they can’t care for, they may eventually become a menace to society.
“Family planning must be approached with an attitudinal change. 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 resolved to use their media platforms to improve sensitisation on the need for family planning methods uptake in the society. (MOI)