Family planning/child spacing in Jigawa state at a glance

Family planning and child spacing programmes are gradually being embraced in the north especially in Jigawa state. In this report, BAYO MUHAMMAD ALABIRA examines the extent so far in the state.

Childbirth spacing used to be practised in some parts of Nigeria and was forbidden in the far north. However, it is now accepted and embraced by young mothers and adolescent in Jigawa state with a view to preventing them from having unplanned or unwanted pregnancies.

Just rently, the Development Communication Networks (DevCom) and The Challenge Initiatives (TCI) sponsored by Bill and Melinda Foundation jointly organised a three-day training for working journalists selected from the prints, electronics and online media houses in Dutse, the capital of Jigawa state.

The two organisations ceased the bull by the horns during the training session, where participants were educated on the importance of child spacing and safe childbirth methods of the family Planning programme.

A look at Jigawa state

In Jigawa state, the family planning programme was introduced in 2007 by the state government and was named ‘Haihuwa Lafiya’ which when translated means safe motherhood programme meant to assist and reduce the rates at which pregnant mothers were lossing their lives and their babies during the childbirth.

During this particular training session, the facilitators from DeVcom and TCI, Mrs Sekyen Dadik and Blessing Mohammed grilled journalists on trends, practices, attitudes and barriers related to family planning that had impeded the successes of the programme in the far north.  

Also, the state family planning coordinator, Aliya Ahmad Adamu and Dr Hauwa Yusuf, a primary healthcare service provider in their separate lectures explained that lack of understanding the true benefits of the programme led to seduction where majority of the people believe the myth and misconception about family planning in the far north.

They said cultural and religious beliefs had also played significant roles which exacerbated its rejection by people in the north. This is as a result of the fact that families hardly discuss anything related to sex with their children when they are growing up.

According to them, family planning is broadly divided into traditional methods, coitus interruptus, postcoital douche, lactational amenorrhea, periodic abstinence (rhythm method).

Others, they noted are barrier methods, condoms, male and female diaphragm, cervical cap, vaginal sponge, spermicides, hormonal methods  PLOral contraceptives, injectable or implantable.

Also the state programme manager of TCI, Ankale Kongude charged the participants to use their experience to promote the programme and discourage anything that would hinder the success of the family planning in the society.

The programme which is the TCI project and sponsored by Bill and Melinda Foundation was focused on family planning and child spacing for the betterment of the family wellbeing.

Kongude explained that TCI is a platform that enables state governments to scale up high-impact family planning approaches for the urban poor.

He said TCI represents a highly innovative approach to development aid intended to strengthen the understanding of scale, impact, efficiency and sustainability.

“TCI’s goal is to support state governments to achieve greater self reliance to scale up family planning and high-impact interventions leading to sustained improvements in urban health systems and increased use of modern contraception,” he stated.

The participants also undertook a study visits or field trips to some health facilities near the state capital which enabled them to conduct one on one interview with some of the women accessing the services through various methods.

The field trips to Kudai and Sagwaya healthcare facilities, outskirt of Dutse was led by the conveyers of the training, Mrs Sekyen Dadik of DeVcom and Blessing Mohammed of the TCI.

Most of the women found on queue at the health facilities were young women ages between 21 to 35. All the women gave birth to some number of children already. Each of them has not less than two and not more than four children in their  matrimonial homes.

Consent mothers speak

In their separate responses, the women said before taking the decision, they have to seek the consent of their husbands. And they all agreed that spacing their children is the best option that can give them healthy living among other benefits.

“Before I started accessing the contraceptive on family planning this year, I have discussed it with my husband who agreed and permitted me to do it because we have two children already.

“Being among Muslim communities in the far north, I have to travel from my home town Galmawa to Kudai, 25 kilometres away to receive the contraceptives. 

“Because I am a known person in Galmawa, people would start asking questions, but here nobody knows me and nobody will border to make enquiry on why i accepted family planning.

“In fact, I accepted to registered for this programme to enable me have good family with healthy children, with good brain that we can train to become useful to the entire society,” said 22 years old Sumeya Sabo.

Another 35 year old woman, Na’ima Barau told Blueprint that she has four children already and now wants to space her childbirth in order to live a good life.

“Myself and my husband have four children already, so in order to give them good education, enough food and training we found it neccessary to plan our family.

“Spacing our family can reduce unnecessary spending, either on medication or food stuff. Because the present situation has called for serious measures to be taken otherwise one will crash as one cannot afford to live comfortably,” Mrs Barau narrated.

At Sakwaya Health Facility, Hajarah Musa 25 years old stressed that, “I started accessing the child spacing two years ago and henceforth I will give four years gab between my childbirth. The contraceptive commodities are costly, because there is high demand for it presently. The current high cost of living demands for child spacing,” she averred.

Need for child spacing

Also the state director Primary Healthcare Agency (SPHCA), Dr Shehu Sambo while declaring the training session opened emphasized more on the importance of family planning in modern families.

“It is an effort towards improving maternal and child indicators, improving maternal nutrition as well as improving healthcare delivery system in the State.

“It also improves deliveries, good post natal care services, improves coverage of immunization services,    improves breastfeeding practices which is complementary friendly for children after birth.

“Family Planning, child birth spacing will give us healthy children for a better tomorrow, healthy population, secure environment and economic prosperity.”

He also said there is still need for awareness on family planning in the state, saying there is only 3.6 percent contraceptive prevalence rate CPR in the state.

He then advised parents to plan for their families with a view to enhancing the well-being of children.

History of family planning

Family Planning programme and its awareness actually started in the South-west Nigeria in the 1930s and between that time to 1970, the programme was known in some parts of the country with the exception of northern Nigeria.

According to the data drawn from a 1973 study, it showed that the sample of 6,606 females from the South-west, 15-59 years of age in Ibadan city were employed to analyse how the family planning method was gaining acceptability over times among Nigerian families.

The usage and method rates were then calculated to suit the age groups of people forwarded to serve as pioneers of the foreign method of child reduction brought into Nigeria by the western world from 1930 to 1973 with the use of contraceptives. This practice got acceptance rapidly between 1960 to 1970.