Study: Work Needed if Nigeria’s Family Planning Norms are to Change

Recent research conducted by CCP has confirmed that there are many barriers to family planning in Nigeria: couples will only use family planning methods if women initiate conversation and if doctors provide the clinical “tests”, and professional advice. These findings emerged from focus group discussions that were held in Ibadan, Nigeria in September 2010, under the auspices of the CCP-led Nigerian Urban Reproductive Health Initiative (NURHI).

Focus group participants (men and women, married and unmarried, old and young, low and middle income, family planning users and nonusers) agreed that family size is dictated by husbands, but wives must take responsibility for initiating the family planning discussion. The success of such discussion depends wholly on the wife’s presentation: she must be well-prepared, armed with information from an outside source, and she must ensure that her husband is receptive. One participant (female, married, age 18-24) suggested that, “She [a wife who is initiating an FP conversation] needs to make sure that her husband is in the right frame of mind. Prior to the time she discusses it with her husband; she should make sure that her husband is well pleased. Possibly, his favorite food should be prepared on that day.”

If responsibility for broaching the subject of family planning in the house rests with wives, it was the belief of FGD participants that it is up to health service professionals to make them aware of their options during health care visits. Explained one participant (female, married, age 25-39), “It is good for doctors to always seize every opportunity they have to talk to people about family planning irrespective of the purpose for which the patient came.”

Similar focus group discussions are being held by NURHI in Kaduna. Results from this formative research will be used to guide project activities and dismantle the existing barriers to family planning use. NURHI seeks to change the social norms surrounding family planning and envisions a Nigeria where both men and women are responsible for initiating conversations about family planning and where family planning information is gleaned from multiple, credible sources – not only health care providers.

NURHI, a five-year project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, seeks to reduce barriers to family planning/child spacing use and increase the contraceptive prevalence rate in selected urban areas of Nigeria. NURHI is a part of the broader Urban Reproductive Health Initiative the Gates Foundation is funding in India, Nigeria, Kenya, and Senegal.

Learn more about NURHI.

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