The role of Health service providers has been identified as crucial when it comes to family planning uptake and women’s health in general. In this interview with JULIET UMEH, Dr. Anne Sigbeku, a Public Health Physician and also a Program Specialist, advised that those involved in providing family planning services should be properly trained and equipped to offer evidence-base information to users. She says no woman should die in the process of bringing life. Excerpts:
What’s your assessment of family planning services in Nigeria?
Family planning is increasingly gaining more acceptances in Nigeria now compared to how it was in the past. More and more people are becoming more aware of the importance of family planning. However, family planning indices show adoption rate is still low on the average in Nigeria. For instance, 15 percent of married women of reproductive age (15‒49) are using any contraceptive method; however, only 10 percent of these women are using modern family planning methods.
Family planning is a very sensitive issue; what is expected of the health workers when it comes to the user’s privacy?
We need to distinguish between Privacy and confidentiality. Privacy has to do with the right to control access to oneself which could be visual privacy (protection from unnecessary bodily exposure) or auditory privacy (consultations should be conducted out of earshot of others). Health workers Personal opinions, religious and cultural values should be set aside when attending to intending users of contraception. If not, users or intending users might feel judged or may feel like they are tagged.
When you request for a family planning service, who ultimately decides the kind of method that is given to you?
In family planning counselling, the right of clients to receive accurate information and make their own informed decisions about reproductive health care is considered fundamental.
How do Healthcare workers/service providers ensure a user is happy with the family planning/Contraceptives counselling they receive?
FP service providers should at every point in time ensure that they offer the best care to their clients based on sound professional judgment irrespective of their own personal opinions.
What are the tips to ensure clients are happy with family planning counselling?
Family planning providers should not be in a rush, while attending to clients. They should also make sure the environment is comfortable and ensure privacy. Then explain fully, the various FP methods and allow clients express themselves and ask questions.
Users sometimes require emergency family planning procedures; how do we ascertain that health care workers provide daily services and not just once in a week service?
The family planning policy in Nigeria does not support operating family planning on clinic day basis but rather offering FP services on daily basis so both routine and emergency clients will have access. Public health facilities run daily FP services.
How often do FP service providers get trained on all the FP methods and provision of its services?
FP training is integrated in pre-service curricular of all health workers. It is expected that service providers in both public and private health facilities undergo in-service training with regular updating of knowledge and skills. Trained staff are also expected to transfer knowledge and skills to their colleagues.
What happens when a health care personal perception/ religious belief does not involve taking or giving FP?
A provider may not want to offer a teenage girl contraceptive simply because she believes that it is against her religious or moral values. The resultant effect is that same girl that is refused contraceptives may still go ahead to have unprotected sex and get pregnant. When service providers bring in their religious background to the workplace, it usually influences whether or not they provide services as well as the type of methods offered the client.
It is said that most primary health centres provide FP services; do general hospitals provide FP services too?
Yes General Hospitals also provide FP services usually as a unit under the O&G department.
What advice do you have for health care workers providing FP services?
They should provide them with regular evidence-based information and training. Trained providers can influence the others and mentor them. Family planning providers, should at every point in time, ensure that they offer the best care to their clients based on sound professional judgment irrespective of their own personal opinions. They should promote doing well; what will benefit the clients rather than avoiding harm. Let’s note that these providers are humans with their own values so we should rather support them to make them better rather than blaming them.