A non-governmental organization, Health Education and Empowerment Initiative (HEDEN) has launched a Family Planning project tagged “Plan Mama Project” in partnership with DKT International.
According to the Executive Director of HEDEN, Folasade Ofurune, the objectives of the Plan Mama project are to improve family planning knowledge and interest among community members, including men and women; mobilize communities to change behaviours; provide quality family planning counselling and services at the community level and build social capital in favour of family planning.
The project includes; health education at the community health centers and outreaches and community mobilization. This includes demonstration of proper condom use which was carried out at every point and contact.
With the support of DKT International, cartons of condoms and NIPROVEN are distributed free of charge to increase the choices available for the pregnant women and nursing mothers at the 10 health centres where HEDEN works.
Ofurune added that the project was borne out of the organization’s Sweet Mother Project (SMP) which has reached over 1,000,000 women across Nigeria since 2004, with the aim of empowering parents and families with knowledge, resources, skills and behaviour to ensure safe motherhood, healthy children and a good start in life for new-borns.
She further stated that in the course of the organization’s work, some barriers to family planning were observed namely: limited knowledge of choice of methods, fear and myths on side effects, poverty, limited access to contraceptives, and cultural and religious beliefs. Hence, the Plan Mama project is designed to fill these gaps.
She further stressed that family planning allows people to attain their desired number of children and determine the spacing of pregnancies. By reducing the rates of unintended pregnancies, family planning also reduces the need for unsafe abortion. It enables people to make informed choices about their reproductive health.
The project is being implemented in 8 hard-to-reach, underserved communities in Ifo local government area of Ogun state targeting women and men, including young persons above the age of 18 years. Plan Mama project employs counselling, talks, demonstrations, Focus Group Discussions, outreaches to mobilize communities for behavioural changes.
Thus far, the project has reached 2,649 individuals and 10 community health centres who have benefitted from the free distribution of condoms and NIPROVEN. 4 outreaches have also been conducted with over 900 packs of condoms distributed.
Ofurune added that in the short duration of the project, about 61 calls have been received from the women interested in other methods of family planning, highlighting the fact that accessible family planning clinic is needed in the communities.
She concluded by calling on government to increase funding for family planning projects.