I believe the modern methods are the best and so far, I have referred 15 clients to the general hospital … to access family planning services.
– Haruna Mikailu
Haruna Mikailu is a well-known herbalist in his community in northwestern Nigeria. He provides traditional remedies to treat malaria, typhoid, diabetes and more. Using the knowledge passed down from his grandfather, also an herbalist, his work has long filled a void in the village of Takulawa, especially since the nearest health facility is 2.5 miles down a dirt road.
Mikailu has also provided herbal remedies to couples hoping to safely space the birth of their children. But the 40-year-old father of 10 was becoming concerned that his reputation was being damaged after an increasing number of clients were conceiving children, despite taking herbs meant to prevent pregnancy.
He heard about a meeting on women’s health sponsored by the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs’ HC3 project in Nigeria and had his two wives attend. Over dinner that night, they shared details of the meeting, including information on birth spacing and modern contraception methods that the herbalist knew nothing about. He sought to learn more and what he discovered completely changed his thinking on family planning.
“The local herbs I have been giving to my clients are not reliable, because some do come back to complain that they are pregnant after taking the herbs,” Mikailu says. “I believe the modern methods are the best and so far, I have referred 15 clients to the general hospital … to access family planning services.”