Monday, August 17, 2015

Nabirere B: bringing men into family planning

Time has absolutely flown by! We’re beginning our last full week in the village this week. We’re all sad that our time here is wrapping up, but we’ve had such a productive few weeks of programming! We held most of our sensitizations in the last two weeks. Safe water, sanitation, malaria, and family planning – we’ve covered it all! We often begin our meetings with a drama, which is fun for us to plan and perform, as well as a more entertaining way to introduce the audience to the topics we are discussing. Then we have about a 30-minute presentation, focusing on how disease can be prevented through realistic behavior changes such as boiling water before drinking it and using mosquito nets every night when they go to sleep. Afterwards, we hold a question and answer session. We’ve been very impressed with how engaged our community is in what we have to say. They seem eager to apply the information we’ve presented and we hope through the rest of UVP’s three-year program in Nabirere B that we see significant improvement in sanitation facility coverage, malaria net coverage, family planning usage, and a significant reduction in preventable death and disease.
Presenting how to build standard sanitation facilities in one community meeting

Essential to all these programs are the members of the Village Health Team (VHTs). Elected by the community, these five individuals work with us to mobilize the community for our events and will be the ones continuing the public health work in the village when we leave. One of our most enthusiastic and active VHTs is Sulaina Mutesi. The original two VHTs in the village recommended her to be a part of the Village Health Team because she was already very active with promoting health in the village. During our time working with her, we’ve seen her enthusiasm in mobilization and condom distribution. She says she was excited to welcome UVP into the community because she knew she could mobilize well for the events and was passionate about the educational sessions we conducted. She was especially excited to receive tippy tap and plate stand supplies, which were provided to her as an incentive to be a role model of sanitation in the community.  Sulaina feels very recognized and important now with in the community because they have started to really respect her as a VHT and ask her to help them check their facilities. She now feels like a highly respected woman in the community and that being a VHT has changed her life for the better. She feels so proud to be a VHT for UVP and she is very happy to be doing what she is doing.
Sulaina at one of our events
 One of the most rewarding programs we’ve conducted so far has been our family planning sensitizations and outreaches. We engaged both men and women on the topic, but had to do so separately and with very different strategies because family planning is such a delicate topic. Many men are resistant to the idea because cultural concepts of masculinity encourage them to have many wives and many, many children. However, after having seven or eight children, many women become interested in obtaining family planning because they are content with the size of their family. However, the culture is pretty patriarchal, meaning the woman is not empowered to make that important of a decision. This leads to conflict – often the woman has to sneak behind the husband’s back to obtain family planning.

So, we decided to have a sensitization for the men on family planning, too. We talked to them about the concept of not having more children than one is capable of catering for economically, the health and economic benefits for mothers and children of spacing out children and having fewer of them, and the various methods they can utilize to do this. The men were extremely receptive to the information, and we’re hopeful that the seeds we planted combined with the work of our male VHTs will slowly change the culture to be more receptive towards family planning.

When we had the sensitization for women, we took more time to explain how each modern family planning method worked and how to use them. Afterwards, we provided birth control pills, shots, male and female condoms, and three or five year implants to the women who were interested in longer-term family planning. It was exciting for us to see their interest and excitement directly translate into action as they took concrete steps to begin a family planning method.
Team members from Nabirere B conducting a family planning sensitization
Although we’re very sad to leave Nabirere B, we’re excited that UVP programming will continue for the next three years! We can’t wait to see Nabirere B transform into a model community for sanitation and health.

No comments: