Development Communications (Devcoms) Network, with support from The Challenge Initiative (TCI) has trained 25 journalists in Gombe, northeast Nigeria, on writing compelling stories that will increase public awareness on child spacing, as well as encourage policymakers improve financing of child spacing programme in the state.
Child spacing, a deliberate attempt by couples to allow at least two years gap intervals between births, has scientifically been proven to reduce maternal deaths in countries by over 40%.
The training focused on how to demystify myths and misconceptions mitigating the proper uptake of child spacing services in the state, as well as evolve strategies of engaging relevant stakeholders join child spacing advocacy campaign.
In a paper, State Family Planning Coordinator, Malama Sa’adatu Sambo, described child spacing as an aspect of safe motherhood which significantly reduces maternal death, calling on residents to embrace child spacing for its benefits which include full restoration of health to mother before next conception, and healthy strong children, among others.
According to her, “government is working hard to provide commodities and consumables, to make sure women in the state continue to access child spacing services free of charge.
“We are happy that journalists are joining the campaign to help us create more awareness. There are religious and cultural barriers to child spacing, and these have negatively affected uptake of services in the state, she said.”
In a paper, TCI Representative, Mal. Yakubu Usman Abubakar, said, his organisation is partnering critical collaborators including the media, religious and community structures, to get people better informed on benefits of child spacing and voluntarily embrace the practice.
Speaking on “Understanding the TCI Business Unusual Model to Child Spacing,” Mal. Yakubu said, the approach [by his organisation] aims at supporting willing state governments in Nigeria to strengthen their health institutions.
“Our believe is that, there is greater confidence in the system by people when things are going the right way,” he said.
Devcoms Representative in the state, Alhassan Yahya, commended the media for enlightenment on importance of child spacing, which contributed to increase in Gombe State’s Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR), from 4% in 2013 to 16% in 2018, as evidenced in the National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS).
The lead facilitator and trainer, Iliya Kure, reminded participants of the power of media to set agenda and influence what the society believes in, calling on them to provide information that is balanced, factual, objective and truthful.
He stressed the need for journalists to provide information that will encourage couples to go to facilities to obtain child spacing counselling and services that are reliable, as against relying on rumours and myths.
Kure also tasked the media to always project voices of people and their needs in order to guide government understand the needs and challenges of people, which will guide it in developing right policies.
The workshop featured group discussions, presentations and field trip to some Primary Healthcare (PHC) facilities in the State.