Family Planning: Feeling The Pulse At Grassroots

By Alogoakho Kuju & Eric Kuju

Family planning is defined by Oxford Languages as the practice of controlling the number of children one has and intervals between their births, particularly by means of contraception or voluntary sterilization.

According to World Health Organization (2008), Family Planning is defined as the ability of individuals and couples to anticipate and attain their desired number of children and the spacing and timing of their births.

The practice is known to have a number of significant advantages which include reduction in the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STds), reduces rate of infertility and also controls unintended pregnancies which in turn brings down the rate of illegal abortions.

In continuation of our quest to find out the level of awareness and practice of family planning in rural communities in Nasarawa State, Eggonnews spoke with individuals in Damba, Keffin-Wambai, Aridi Abimiku and Barkin Abdullahi all in Lafia North Development Area.

Here are some of the responses gotten:

Baby Maikudi, Damba

Baby Maikudi, Damba

“Yes! I have heard about family planning in the clinic and also among our people here in Damba.

“I have done family planning once. I did injection method. And when I did the injection it really helped me to rest and to regain my strength. I needed to rest small that time that was why I did the family planning. The injection method I did, did not cause any problem to me.”

Baby Maikudi said her husband supported her when she went for the injection but she knows a number of men in the community who do not even want to hear about family planning.

On the most common method used by women in Damba, she said implants are the most common.

I’ve Stopped Because I Want More Children

  • Restore Solomon, Damba
Restore Solomon

“I have six children now. I got married so many years ago. I cannot remember the exact year I got married.

“I used to do family planning but now I have stopped. When I was doing family planning it was pills I used to take. But I have stopped because I needed to add more children.

“It was in the clinic I heard and I was educated on the method of family planning that suited me. And I did that method they advised me and I didn’t experience any problem on that method. And it really helped me to rest for a while.

“For me I did not discuss with my husband before I engaged on family planning. And because of the present economic situation, we now have more men in this community encouraging their wives to go for family planning. They want to give birth to the number of children they can train and provide for.”

Some Men Do Not Allow Their Wives To Do Family Planning

Blessing Ibrahim
  • Blessing Ibrahim, Damba

“I heard about family planning in the clinic. When we go for ante-natal or post-natal clinic, they advise us on family planning. They tell us it is so that we will be healthy and also have time to take of our children very well before we take in again.

“When I started the family planning it was rubber that I inserted. But I have changed from that method. Now I do injections.

“I just changed because I felt like changing from using the rubber to injection. I did not experience any problem in the two methods I used.

“In this community some men do not allow their wives to do family planning. But there are some that encourage their wives to do it.

“When I started using rubber it was free. But the time I changed to injection I paid N200. I pay that amount anytime I go for the injection.”

My Husband Supports Me Doing Family Planning

  • Esther Sidi, Damba

“I heard of family planning in the clinic. The health personnel also come for outreach and they advise people on family planning.

Grace Isaac

“We were advised to do in order to help us to take care of ourselves and the child we are nursing very well.

“I have done family planning. I started injection and it did not suite me so I stopped it. And I changed to rubber or tube insertion. But the insertion method I switched to was causing problem of bleeding to me. Then I went back to them then they removed it.

“The family planning is free. The two methods I used it was free I was attended to. I did not pay anything for it.

“My husband was in support of me doing family planning. If your husband is not in support it normally brings problem whenever he finds out.

I’ve Not Done Family Planning Because I’ve Not Got Enough Children Yet

  • Grace Isaac from Damba

“I have heard of family planning in the clinic. But I have never done family planning.

“The reason is that I have not given birth to the number of children I want yet. But once I get the number of children, I can think of it. I will discuss with my husband to have his support in order to do family planning. Thank you”.

I Thank God My Husband Supports Me Doing Family Planning

  • Theresa Habakkuk from Damba
Theresa Habakuk

“I heard of family planning from people around, from the clinic and also whenever the health personnel come on their outreach. They educate people on the importance of family planning.

“I have done family planning. I did the injection method.

“Before I went for the injection, they told me the different methods of family planning available and told me the problems with some of the methods. So, I decided with the advice of health personnel to go for injection method. And since I started the injection method, I have not experienced any challenge.

“My husband is in support of me doing family planning. He was the one that gave me money to for family planning. I pay N200 anytime I go for the injection.

“Some men in this community are in support of their wives to do family planning while some are not in support at all. But for me I thank God my husband is in support of it”.

I’m Still Strong, I’m Not Ready To Stop Producing Children Yet

  • Stephen Gambo from Damba

“I have heard of female and male family planning from my wife. But I have not done it. My wife told me about family planning but I told her not to do it. And me too I have not done family planning.

Stephen Gambo

“I know there are different methods of family planning. I think they brought that one for male for me but I didn’t do it. I told her I was not ready for family planning now.

“For now, I am not ready to stop producing children. Because I am still strong. But when I get the number of children, I can take care of, once I am satisfied with the number of children I have, I will seek for family planning. I will encourage my wife to go into family planning.

“In this community men encourage their wives to do family planning in order to give birth to the number of children they can take care of.

“For now, I don’t know what will make me use condom on my wife. But may be with time I might go into family planning but not using condom with my wife. I will only advise her to do it, but I won’t use condom with my wife.”

Circumstances Made Us Go For Family Planning

  • Danjuma Alaku from Damba

“I heard about family planning on radio, I heard it too from health personnel whenever they are on outreach and also from my wife whenever she comes back from clinic.

Danjuma Alaku

“My wife is into family planning. We chose to go into family because of the situation we found ourselves in this country. We thought of giving birth to the children we can take care of, the children number of children we can sponsor in school, the number of children we can provide their needs. And also, my wife needs rest in order to regain strength. Those are the reasons why we are doing family planning.

“When she was about to start, I took her to the clinic to do it. It is the injection method that she is into.

“In this community some men do not understand the importance of family planning. Some see it from the religious perspective that it is a sin. And for that they don’t do it. But there are some that are into it.

“For those that don’t know the importance of family planning I try to tell them the importance. And some understand and are into it. But there are some that are not in support of it. And you know they are the head of their household so, when I advise them like this, I leave them to think over it. Some do understand and some don’t do it.

Ali Timothy Albashi

“The method my wife is into is free. We didn’t pay a dime for it.

“There was a time she had some problems with the family planning method. This made me worried. I can remember I even regretted why I did it. My wife was getting sick always at the beginning. I felt so bad that time. So, we went and complain to them in the clinic and they advised us that she will get used to it and the sickness will stop. We were also given some medication to take and the thing stopped.

We’re Yet To Start Family Planning

  • Ali Timothy Albashi from Damba

“I have been hearing of family planning on radio and from my wife. To be sincere I have never done family planning and my wife too has not done family planning.

“You know family planning is to stop woman from conceiving. That means when you have had children to your satisfaction. And for me, I have not gotten the number of children that I want yet. Because of that, we are not into family planning. By the grace of God when we get children to our satisfaction, we are going to do family planning.

I’m Yet To Begin Family Planning

  • Shakarau Audu from Keffi Wambai

“I have heard of family planning but I am not into it. I got to know about family from people.

Shekarau Audu, Keffin Wambai

“From what I have gathered from people around, some when they start the family planning, at the beginning there won’t be any complications. But with time the complications come.

“Some of the challenges they face is that some of the women when they want to start conceiving, they find it difficult to conceive.

“Some men in this community are into family planning. They use condom. For me and my wife we have not done family planning. But sometimes when one goes out, we have to carry condom in case.”

Also, in Keffin Wambai, Eggonnews came across a young man by name Abimiku Leo also known as Ability, who was still single and was willing to speak about family planning.

I’m Single But I Know About Family Planning

  • Abimiku Lebo Akyen Alias Ability from Keffi Wambai
Abimiku Lebo Akyen alias Ability

“I am not yet married. I am still single. But I know family planning is something that is being done in order to help family or husband and wife in controlling child birth for some period of time.

“For me as a single, I have never done family planning. But some single ladies and single men in the community are into family planning.”

As for the reason singles go for family planning even when they do not lead any family, he had this to say: “They are into it in order to avoid unwanted pregnancy and also to avoid the issue of abortion which may destroy the lady’s uterus making her unable to conceive again.”

I Advised My Wife To Go For Family Planning

  • Habakkuk Aboki Abimiku from Keffi Wambai

“I am a teacher in one of the private schools in Keffi Wambai.

“I know family planning and I’m doing family planning. I got to know about family planning from the hospital.

“The method my wife is into is injection method and we go for it every two months.

Habakuk Aboki

“I was the one that advised my wife to start family planning in order to for us to give space in giving birth, for her to rest before she takes in again and for us to give birth to the number of children we can take care of.

“It is not all about giving birth to children. It is about taking care of them. Taking care of them by providing their needs and paying their school fees. It is very good for one to give birth to number of children he or she can be able to take care of. What is the benefit of giving birth to the number of children that we cannot cater for? It is very bad. When you give birth to so many children some of them end up becoming criminals. They end up becoming nuisance in the society.

“For that, I and my wife agreed to go into family planning so that we won’t give birth to children we won’t cater for their needs. Once we give birth to them, it is our responsibility to provide for them.

“My wife is into the injection method. Since we started it, we have not seen any problem yet. And it is free.”

As Far As God Keeps Blessing Us With Children, We Will Keep Producing Them

  • Nagba Atomeh James
Nagba Atomen James

Also, in Keffin Wambai, Eggonnews met a particularly interesting character by name Nagba Atomeh James. He seemed to be totally against family planning because to him, doing so will amount to challenging the power of God. The following are his words:

“I have never heard anything like family planning. Seriously if there is anyone doing it, I don’t know yet. Even if my wife is doing it, I don’t know because I don’t want to put God into test.

“What I mean by that is that if my wife gives birth, and God says it is OK for us, then we stop. But as far as He keeps blessing us with children, we will keep producing them. I am not the one that will tell my wife to stop giving birth. I will never do that.

“I heard somewhere that the thing is bringing problem. So, I will not do it.”

Women And Men Patronise Family Planning Services

  • Aishatu Yahuza Deputy Officer in-Charge, Primary Health Care Centre Keffin Wambai

“To be sincere in this area women and men are trying on the issue family planning. The men often come to collect condom while the women come for other methods of family planning.

“The family planning has different methods. One of the methods is an injection done every two months. That is Norethisterone. And there is another, also an injection but for every three months. That one is Depo. And there is yet another injection that has been introduced recently which is called Sayana Press. There is also implanon. This is the one they call rubber which is implanted in the arm of the women. For the implanon, there is the one for three years and there is one for five years. Implanon for three years and Jadelle for five years. And there are pills that are to be taken every day. There is IUCD. This one is inserted into the woman’s cervix. There are other methods but we don’t do them here. But the ones I mentioned are the ones we do here.

Aishatu Yahuza, Assistant Officer in-Charge, PHC Keffin Wambai

“Injection and implanon are the methods mostly done in this place along with the use of condom.

Aishatu Yahuza also spoke of a particular instance when a man came to challenge the clinic for placing his wife on family planning without his consent. “We were challenged I think once by one man. They had discussion with his wife on family planning when he was about to travel. The wife told him she wanted to go for family planning. He said no. Then after he travelled the wife came met one of our staff – he has been transferred from here – and explained to us that her husband agreed for her to come and do family planning. So, we attended to her.

“When he came back and discovered that she was into family planning, he came and expressed his anger. We explained to him what the wife said. We said ‘we are not in your house and how can we know that you were not around? Our own here is to render service and we rendered the service.’ And we asked her whether the husband was aware she said yes.”

On whether or not the health facility charges for family planning services, she said: “There are some we give out free and there are some we collect money to buy hand gloves, syringes. And the money is not much.”

She also said that the commodities are always available in the health facility and it covers Damba, Dungu, Keffi Wambai, Awuma and Ruwayo.

I’ll Stop Having Children Only When God Says It’s Okay

  • Ajiya Matthew From Aridi Abimiku
Ajiya Matthew, Aridi

“I have heard of family planning. But I have never done it. The reason why I have not done family planning is because I want to give birth plenty children.

“When I got married, I didn’t get children on time. Now that God has started blessing me with children, I want to have plenty children.

“I gave birth to six children but two died and I am now left with four children. I will keep giving birth until God says it is ok. I will not do any family planning. Thank you.”

Family Planning Keeps Husbands At Home

  • Aranmehson Solomon from Aridi Abimiku

“I have heard of family planning. Health personnel come for outreach to advise us on the significance of family planning. They tell us to space our children, allowing them to grow to a certain level before we take in again. And we need to rest small in order to regain strength. They also advise us to give birth to children that we can take care of.

Aranmeson Solomon

“I have used family planning but I have stopped. I used to do injection. When I started, my menstruation stopped completely then doctors advised me to stop, saying that it will cause problem for me. But when I stopped, I bled as if I would die. I had to go to the hospital. They washed my stomach and they treated me.

“Nowadays, there are so many sicknesses around and when a woman is nursing a baby, the husband would be going out. One of the advantages of family planning is that it helps the woman keep her husband satisfied at home. If he is not satisfied at home, he may go out and get infected with a disease.

“Some men cannot stay for too long and be waiting for their wives to finish nursing the baby. For that if they don’t do family planning, he would go and get someone somewhere. And when he gets infected it will affect the family too.”

Family Planning Has Helped Me Rest

  • Paulina Luka from Aridi Abimiku

“I know about family planning. I was told in the clinic. I started with the two months injection but it caused problem for me. I now complained to them at the clinic and they switched to the injection for three months. That one has not caused any problem for me.

“I did family planning because I wanted to rest and give birth to the children I can take care of; the number of children I can provide for. And it has really helped me.”

Modern Family Planning Methods Only Replaced Traditional Method

  • Juliana Samuel from Aridi Abimiku

“I have heard of family planning. During our days, we didn’t hear anything like the family planning. But now we started hearing things like that.

Juliana Samuel

“I took the injection when I felt I had given birth to enough children, so that I would rest. But the injection made me to bleed. When the bleeding did not stop, I just stopped the injection. That was when I gave birth to my last born.

“I will encourage women to into family planning now because things are not like when we were growing up. Things are very difficult now.

“When we were growing up, our parents used to eat one type of leaf whenever they wanted to stop giving birth. But now it has been replaced with that of white men. Women used to cut Ebyo and boil it and drink. The Ebyo used to control or stop the woman from taking in for a while. And it doesn’t have any side effect. But the one the women are doing nowadays, especially the injection, has side effect. Sometimes when a woman wants to stop and start conceiving, she finds it difficult to conceive. And to some women, it causes bleeding and frequent sickness.”

We Need To Repopulate To Replace Those That Die

  • Prince Matthew Abimiku from Aridi Abimiku

“I am the son to the village head of this community. That is why they call me Prince. I have been hearing of family planning. But I am not into family planning, the reason being that I want to have many children. Although it is good for one to give birth to the number of children he or she can take care of, I believe God will provide for me to take care of the children that I have given birth to.

“Another reason is that when I look at myself, I am still young. There is no way I will jump into family planning. Our parents didn’t do any family planning. that is why our population is very high. And because of this family planning, our population has started reducing. In addition, there are some of our people that have been killed somewhere. I want to give birth to children so that they replace those people that have been killed.

“I don’t know what future will tell us but for not I am not into family planning. In future, we will look at the conditions and think of whether to do family planning or not. I believe the more I produce, the more God will provide for me to take care of them.

“I cannot advise anybody to go into family planning because there are a lot of implications. When one starts family planning, when you are ready to resume conceiving, you may not get them. So, for me it is to leave everything to God.”

I’m Not Into Family Planning But I Encourage Others To Go For It

  • Village Head

Eggonnews was also opportune to speak with the Chief of Aridi Abimiku by name Abuga Abimiku who himself is not into family planning even though he knows about it. He said:

“I am the head of this community. Family planning that I know. My father married four women. And he didn’t divorce any of them. But nowadays when someone marries two women and he wants to add, he would send one of them out to bring another one.

“When we were much younger, people didn’t know of family planning. Life was easy. The major occupation was farming. People’s wealth was measured based on the number of children they had. And the children were obedient to their parents.

“But nowadays, when you give birth to many children then you are inviting many problems to your house.

“I have not done family planning. My first wife gave birth to nine children and she passed away. Then I married another wife and the second wife gave birth to four children.

“I will encourage people to go into family planning. Because I noticed that when you give birth to many children now, to cater for their needs is not easy. So, I will advise people to give birth to the number of children they can take care of. Especially when it comes to the issue of paying children’s school fees. When the children are many, they find it difficult to pay their school fees. So, people should give birth to the number of children they can cater for.”

When Eggonnews got to the Primary Health Care Centre in Barkin Abdullahi (B.A.D), spoke to some persons who were incidentally there to utilize the family planning services. Here is what they said:

I Want To Start Family Planning

  • Hassana Audu from Takpa

“I have heard of family planning. I am in the clinic to start family planning; I want to start the family planning. I have listened to explanation about the different methods of family planning and I have decided to start it. It was even my husband that encouraged me to come for family planning. We want it because I want to rest.”

My Husband Is In Full Support

  • Abigail Matthew from Gbamzee

“I have heard of family planning and I want to give it a trial so that I can rest for a while.

“My husband is fully in support of me to do the family planning because he sees that I need to rest in order to regain my strength.”

I Know About Family Planning But I Don’t Do It

  • Joseph Godwin from Sabo Gbakumo B.A.D

“I have heard of family planning but I don’t do it. But one day I will encourage my wife to go into family planning because it will be nice for us to have children that we can take care of. Thank you.”

Lack Of Manpower Stresses Us

  • Arigu Zainab Deputy In Charge PHC, BAD

“My name is Arigu Zainab, Deputy in charge, PHC BAD.

“The turn-up of people for family planning is encouraging. The people are responding very well to our campaigns for family planning and we have not had anybody harass us for that because we often go out for outreaches. Like the month of February, we had about 66 people that came for family planning.”

On the method preferred by most of the locals, she said the Jadelle implants are the most popular.

She also revealed that the commodities are usually available in the facility and they usually provide the services free of charge.

Speaking on the challenges being faced, she said: “The challenge we are facing here is the issue of manpower. You can see, we are only three that are trained here. Now my superior (OIC) is not on seat. She has gone for a meeting. I’m the one handling this while the other colleague is on night shift. I’m the only person now going up and down. So, if we can get more hands to assist us, we will appreciate it.”

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