Mrs. Ruth Dare is a registered nurse and family planning provider at the Primary Health Care Centre, Ojomu Olomowewe in Offa town, Kwara State in north central Nigeria. She spoke on the impact the Nigerian Urban Reproductive Health Initiative (NURHI) has made in increasing uptake of modern family planning in the town of Offa.

“Before now, family planning (FP) in Offa was not as good as it is now. We had to go from house to house begging people to adopt FP. We went to churches, mosques, but they refused coming for FP because people were afraid of the side effects and also due to the misconceptions people had. But now, people are ready for FP.  With the intervention of NURHI, the federal and state governments, people are coming out for FP–men, women, the old and the young are all coming for FP,” Mrs. Dare asserts.

Indeed, family planning uptake in Offa was nothing to write home about in years past. Those brave enough to go to the health facility for FP services covered their faces, to avoid being recognized by other members of the community and suffering criticism and condemnation. In those days before NURHI, family planning clients were few and far between.  According to Mrs. Dare, “I used to sit and fold my hands in my office. I was dormant here. No client.  Nobody to attend to.”

This has changed with the intervention of NURHI.  First, NURHI officials spoke with key personalities in the town, including the LGA Chairman, the Chief Imam, the paramount ruler of Offa, and other religious leaders and groups.  Through these efforts, they gained high level support for the family planning program in the local government.

Following this, NURHI worked with these leaders to select community volunteers called social mobilizers who enlighten community members about family planning and refer those willing to service providers in NURHI-supported health facilities.

NURHI also trained health providers to deliver FP services, in order to satisfy the expected increase in family planning clients. Mrs. Dare benefited from these trainings and the health facility where Mrs. Dare works was designated a NURHI-supported facility in April 2012.

Since then, demand for family planning has soared in Offa Local Government Area, and at Mrs. Dare’s facility.  With unconcealed excitement, Mrs. Dare declares, “now, I have a lot to do and people have been coming for FP without any problem and I thank God all what I laid my hands on has been successful”.

NURHI’s advocacy efforts have proved invaluable as attested to by Mrs. Dare. She recalls with excitement all the important personalities who were visited and pledged to work together with NURHI. Mrs. Dare has participated in the advocacy work, recently appearing on a 30-minute radio programme about family planning, at the request of the local government chairman. Following the programme, many people have called her on phone for FP advice, and she refers them to her facility for services.

With a voice full of energy, which reverberates her office, she declares her intention to see to it that there is a 20% increase in contraceptive prevalence rate in Offa Local Government. With an infectious smile, she says, “NURHI has really helped me, I have developed and I have been lifted up. I have been known in Offa Local Government, I have been known in Kwara State. So I thank NURHI for this”. With her fist clenched and raised up, she exclaims, “UP NURHI!”