Leveraging the Talents of Media Practitioners to Spread Family Planning Messages
Contributors: Wale Adefila, Glory Omomase, Solanke Olusola and Nneoma Anieto
Mass media (newspapers, radio, television and mobile phones) is the most common source of reproductive health information for Nigerian youth. Studies have documented a strong relationship between exposure to family planning messages in the media and contraceptive use. Such exposure can increase people’s knowledge about contraceptive methods and dispel myths and misconceptions. When used effectively, mass media can facilitate a supportive policy environment and generate considerable demand for family planning.
Public health mass media campaigns can reach large numbers of people quickly – and relatively inexpensively when comparing cost per individual reached – but they are often dismissed as an unsustainable intervention. This is because underfunded health budgets of local governments go primarily towards service delivery and the procurement of commodities and equipment. As a result, it is important to think of creative ways to ensure the sustainability of mass media interventions and involve media practitioners. In Nigeria, The Challenge Initiative (TCI) established Media Forums to strengthen the capacity of media practitioners to bolster reporting on family planning and reproductive health issues. The Media Forums have been able to secure free airtime during global health awareness days, where they invite state program managers and members of the State Behavior Change Communication (SBCC) committee, Interfaith Forum and Advocacy Group (ACG) to speak about family planning on radio talk show programs.
This has not only led to the creation of a more enabling environment where family planning is more freely discussed and promoted across TCI-supported states but also inspired the uptake of family planning methods in health facilities across the states. In addition, members of the Media Forums, SBCC committees, ACGs and interfaith forum have become known as family planning champions within their respective workplaces and communities.
Hajiya Safiya Saleh, a 33-year-old member of the Media Forum in Niger state, accessed family planning for the first time in March 2020 following the media advocacy training conducted by TCI in partnership with the Niger state government. Before the training, she had lots of misconceptions about family planning which were all addressed during the training. In addition to accessing a contraceptive method, Hajiya also produced a family planning jingle in her free time and airs it for free at the radio station where she works.
I want to thank TCI because they have changed the minds of many people. I actually started talking to people in my office. I spoke to my colleagues and now two of them have taken up methods as well. One uses pills and the other chose implants like me. In my office, they call me small doctor and once anyone has a question on family planning, they tell the person to ‘Go and meet Safiya.’ After the training, I thought of ways to contribute to family planning in my community. Apart from presenting family planning programs on air, I decided to do a jingle on FP. It turned out to be a good idea as people who heard the jingle started calling me and the station about it to seek more information and I encourage them to go to the health facility. Another thing I do, I usually play songs that promote childbirth spacing on my shift. I do all this because people are ignorant about child birth spacing and its benefits and this is due to the misconceptions that are everywhere. Most times, I ask people to feel my upper arm where the implants is so they can believe me. I truly believed I have achieved my aim of creating the jingle because I have been able to change many peoples’ mind because of this jingle. The one thing that surprised me is the fact that even men in my office come to me for family planning information.”
Hajiya's Family Planning Jingle
Saadatu: Aisha and Sani, Hold Salma’s hand.
Safiya : Can’t you see cars? Stop. Cross. Saadatu, Where are you going with all these children? Wedding?
Saadatu : No, it’s not wedding oo, my daughter is sick, we are taking her to the hospital?
Safiya: Must you go with all these children to the hospital?
Saadatu: Well, their father is not around, he is at work. I always have to take them with me everywhere.
Safiya: The kids are many and they are all still very young, I even wanted to suggest if you can visit the FP Unit in the hospital.
Saadatu: Ahh I can’t because FP is expensive, we don’t have money.
Safiya: No, FP is free. Please, go. At least, you and your husband will rest while these ones grow up in good health
Saadatu: I am so glad I met you oo, let me quickly come back from the hospital and discuss with my husband later when he comes back from work
(Song plays about the benefits of family planning to families, communities.)
As a result of the Media Forum efforts in the 11 states TCI supports, a total of 8,523 media spots – including 5,404 radio spots, 3,119 TV spots, 33 nine-minute family planning documentaries targeted at policymakers and technocrats and 1-minute TV and radio documentary spots – were aired 58 times on national media and 81 times on state-based media stations, amplifying the reach of family planning key messages.
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