Nigerian Religious Leader Mobilizes His Community to Increase Access to Family Planning Services
Contributor: Onyedikachi Ewe
Pastor Kenneth Dike is a religious leader in the Bida community of the Onitsha South local government area (LGA) in Anambra State, Nigeria. He is also a social mobilizer trained by The Challenge Initiative (TCI). Pastor Ken, as he is popularly known, has always been passionate about free family planning services because he is well-aware of the needs of his community members. Bida is an urban slum characterized by very low-income households with large families of seven to nine closely spaced children. Onitsha South also does not have many trained providers or health facilities offering family planning services.
Facility-based in-reaches are a TCI proven approach during which the state mobilizes all of the required equipment and supplies as well as additional service providers to ensure quality family planning services. It also provides the consumables so family planning services are provided completely free of charge. In November 2019, TCI initiated an in-reach campaign with Anambra’s LGAs and asked them to select facilities. In Onitsha South, the Reproductive Health (RH) supervisor, the social mobilization officer, social mobilization assistant and Pastor Ken chose the Sokoto Health Post in Bida for an in-reach.
Pastor Ken then launched his own demand generation and visibility campaign for the health facility. With his own funds, he designed a banner to display in front of the health post before the event. He also engaged members of his church to conduct a thorough cleaning in and around the facility to ensure potential clients would find a welcoming environment. On the day of the in-reach, he provided his personal power generator and fuel to power the clinic from 8 am to 4 pm. The RH supervisor also noted that the insertion couches were donated by Pastor Ken.
As a result, 17 women obtained a long-acting reversible contraceptive method during the in-reach at the clinic. In addition, the demand generation activities resulted in increased awareness about family planning and child birth spacing in Bida that will last beyond the one-day activity. Community members now know they can take up a family planning method to space or limit the number of children they have.
After obtaining their method of choice at the in-reach, some women were overjoyed knowing they can space their children without refusing sex with their husbands, something that often leads to conflict in the home.
“There will no longer be fights or disagreements at night,” said one client.