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1.1       Background of the Study

Giving birth is something in which mankind and animals are equal….But rearing the young, and especially educating them for many years is something which is a unique gift and responsibility of a man. It is for this reason that it is important for human beings to put emphasis on caring for children and the ability to look after them properly, rather than thinking only about the number of children and the ability to give birth. For it often happens that man’s ability to give birth is greater than their ability to bring up the children (Julius Neyerere cited in Centre for Disease Control 1983).

The above dictum could not have been more germane than in a 21st century Africa where many families grapple with the challenges of malnutrition, infant mortality, road accidents, armed robbery, sexually transmitted diseases, maternal mortality, kidnapping, unemployment, hunger, civil strife, among others. One of the subtle but most frightening of all is the issue of maternal mortality which incidentally is one of the biggest problems facing the developing areas of the continent, including Nigeria. In fact, Lindroos and Luukkainen (2004), in the Antenatal Care and Maternal Mortality in Nigeria, were moved to ask a rhetorical question that if maternal mortality is about 800 – 1100/100 000 like it is in Nigeria, in a country where the population is over 120 million it means about 54 000 deaths every year. That is only a bit under 10% of all maternal mortality cases in the world per year.

Raphael (2008) corroborates the foregoing statistics as he asserts that Nigeria’s maternal mortality rate is the second highest in the world, after India – 1,100 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. The country is home to 2 percent of the global population, but 10 percent of all maternal deaths take place there. Only about 60% of pregnant women have access to prenatal care in Nigeria and even fewer have access to family planning. These sad and scary statistics have been blamed squarely on the Nigerian government’s inability to provide access to information on family planning and contraception, two issues very closely related to maternal death (Centre for Reproductive Rights, CRR, and the Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre, WARDC 2008). Clearly, the health benefits of family planning associated with child spacing and the use of specific methods can play a major role in protecting the lives of infants, children, women and the family as a whole on the continent of Africa.

However, Nigeria is the most populous country on the continent and among the ten most populated nations of the world. Its national population is about 140 million and has been projected to reach 250 million by the year 2015 (Population Reference Bureau, PRB 2004; National Population Commission 2006). The large increase in size of the population is mostly a function of past and present levels of fertility and mortality in the country. In Nigeria, child spacing or the timing of every birth, including the first and last, can improve the likelihood of survival and of good physical and emotional health for the entire family at all stages of life. All available evidence indicates that the level of reproduction has been persistently high in the last three or four decades and still remains so at present (Fraser and Weisberg 1981; Odaman 2005).

In the quest to stem the tide of unbridled population growth, the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2002 came out with a population policy paper on family planning and fertility regulation. According to the policy paper, the value of family planning and child spacing on the stability and wellbeing of family shall be promoted and family services shall be incorporated in maternal and child health care. This is to help reduce maternal and infant morbidity and mortality as well as reduce rapid population growth in the shortest possible time in order to ensure sustainable development which can be achieved only by reducing population growth to bring it to per with the available national resources. This will invariably lead to the attainment of good quality life and high standard of living in the country. It is perhaps because of the foregoing world leaders in 1974 accepted family planning as a human right of individuals and couples. Article 14 (F) of the World Population Plan of Action states that:

All couples and individuals have the basic right to decide freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children and to have the information, education and means to do so; the responsibility of couples and individuals in the exercise of the right takes into account the needs of their living and future children, and their responsibility towards the community.

Though there is a growing interest with the intense efforts of the government to popularize the use of modern family planning methods by integrating it into maternal and child health in Nigeria, it seems many people still do not apply family planning methods. Lindroos and Luukkainen (2004) contend that Nigeria is a country where modern family planning usage is one of the lowest in the world. This may be due to lack of useful information to those who really need the information as a majority of the Nigerian populace live in the rural areas where there is poor access to modern means of communication including the mass media. Family planning provides the society with some socio-economic and health benefits (Odaman 2005). Awareness of such benefits can significantly enhance the use of contraceptives, which in turn, will reduce population growth and overtime have positive effects on national development. In this connection, Ugoji (2008) observes that family planning programmes strive to prevent unwanted pregnancies, help achieve birth spacing and help couples limit family size so as to reduce maternal/infant mortality.

Further, Odaman (2005) enumerates some of the family planning methods to include the use of safe period, calendar or rhythm, oral pills, condoms, injectables, intrauterine devices (IUDs), Norplant and sterilization. As regards the foregoing modern methods, Oladeji (2008) contends that communication and decision making play a vital role in ensuring informed choice of family planning and reproductive health behaviour. Effective communication/ decision making allows people to seek what is best for their own health and to exercise their right to good quality health care (Rimal et al. 2002).

In the same vein, it has been argued that the mass media, especially radio and television have been quite effective in creating family planning awareness in urban Nigeria. Perhaps, this is because the urban dwellers have greater access to the mass media. According to a survey of predominantly urban areas, about 90% of all urban house-holds have radios and about 60% own televisions in Nigeria (Information, Education and Communication, IEC, July 1996) and the likelihood that people living in urban areas would readily have access to family planning information as purveyed through radio and television media is high. But to make this level of family planning awareness effective among the generality of Nigerians, the mass media should have a hold in the rural areas where a larger number of the people live.

The spread of television and radio, the rise of an independent press, and increasing literacy rates in many countries offer new opportunities for family planners and other health care organizations to inform the public and reach opinion leaders (Piotrow et al. 1994). Making the most of these opportunities requires skill in helping the news media cover family planning. While examining the knowledge and practice of family planning methods among the currently married adolescent women (CMAW) in India, Narsary (2009) observed that exposure to mass media and husband-wife communication play a significant role in family planning matters. Obaid (2006) and Abd El-Aziz (2006) have also identified radio and television media as effective instruments in family planning education in Jordan and Egypt respectively. Similarly, in a more recent research conducted with an aim to assess the knowledge, understanding and attitude of couples towards family planning across two ecological settings of Jammu district in India, Dhingra et al. (2010) found that television and magazines were the major accessible sources of information on family planning to couples.

Since 1972, the average family size in developing countries has dropped from about six or seven children per woman to about three children. This trend has saved millions of lives and provided additional benefits to women and children who when healthy can achieve greater levels of education and empowerment (International Planned Parenthood Federation, PPF 1992). Despite the gain, contraceptive use is still low and needs high usage in some of the world’s poorest and most populous places, including Nigeria. At least, three in 10 pregnancies are unintended in some regions, and millions of couples are still unable to effectively choose the number and timing of their children. Moreover, some developing countries (such as Bangladesh) that have not substantially reduced their fertility levels in recent decades are in danger of seeing their development or progress halted or slowed. These challenges are immense, but not insurmountable. The past 50 years demonstrate that successful family planning programmes can be developed even under difficult circumstances. For example, the one child per family policy in the Peoples Republic of China, however draconic has helped to check birth rate and population explosion and the country is arguably better for it.

The use of safe, voluntary contraception is also accepted worldwide. In 1994, representatives from 179 nations met in Cairo, Egypt at the international conference on population and development and agreed to provide reproductive health care to all people by the year 2015- a goal that called for countries to “meet the family planning needs to their population” and provide “universal access to a full range of safe and reliable family planning methods” (Population Reference Bureau, PRB 2004). Diachronically, family planning methods, among other social issues have engaged the interest of media researchers. Aikhenomia (1999) remarks that: Researchers in the field of mass communication at one time or the other have conducted researches to study the influence of a given idea or practice via the mass media, through a sociocultural structure. Also systematic inquiries have been conducted about the attitudes of receivers or audience towards such practice.

1.2       Statement of the Problem

The transformational benefits of family planning are evident for women, families, communities, and countries. Yet a large body of evidence confirms that many people, most notably in the developing world where continued rapid population growth adversely affects efforts to improve standards of living, do not utilize the family planning methods from which they could benefit greatly (Cleveland et al., 2006; Global Action Health, 2015; Starbird et al., 2016; WHO, 2016). In examining global fertility rates, the United Nations reported a global average of 2.5 children per woman in 2015 (United Nations, 2015). However, stark differences persist in childbearing patterns across countries, as well as within regions, of the developing world. For example, the birth rate in Middle Africa in 2015 was nearly 6 children per woman whereas in Southern Africa it was just over 2.5 (United Nations, 2015). These findings have prompted a renewed interest and demand for identification of specific factors responsible for changes in fertility

In fact, the need to better understand predictors of effective communication of family planning messages has only increased in importance. Recent changes in U.S. policy reducing funding for the United Nations Population Fund and the United States Agency for International Development, have raised concerns about provoking a global health and population crisis (Robinson, 2017). According to the Guttmacher Institute, U.S. foreign assistance for family planning in 2016 prompted 27 million girls, women, and couples to use contraceptives, helping to prevent six million pregnancies and 11,000 maternal deaths (Guttmacher, 2017). The number of women in developing countries who want to avoid pregnancy but are not using modern contraception has declined from 225 million in 2015 to 214 million in 2017 (Guttmacher, 2017).

Research in this area shows varying degrees of positive effects from mass media delivered family planning campaigns aimed at changing people’s attitudes and behaviors toward family planning, and increasing their knowledge about and use of modern contraceptives (Belaid et al., 2016; Mwaikambo, Speizer, Schurmann, Morgan, & Fikree, 2011; Snyder, 2003). Such inconsistencies in the extant literature call for research that furthers an understanding of specific instances and conditions where mass media-delivered communication campaigns are most effective in promoting greater family planning knowledge; stronger positive attitudes towards contraceptives; and better adherence to practicing family planning methods in Nigeria

The adoption of family planning methods has been low in developing countries in Africa. In Nigeria especially there has been persistent resistance of family planning methods. This is perhaps because of the dominance of religion and religious beliefs namely Islam and Christianity which are both against the practice of family planning. However, there are other cultural and traditional practices which also hinder the free adoption of modern family planning methods.

In an attempt to promote the adoption of modern family planning methods in Nigeria, the Federal Government had promulgated policies for example the 1988 Reproductive health policy which promotes one, husband, one wife and four children. Furthermore, the Federal Government open the door to Non Governmental Organizations such as the Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria (PPFN), Society for Family Health (SFH), United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and Nigerian Urban Reproductive Health Initiative (NURHI) to also contribute their quota in ensuring that people were enlightened about the benefits of accessing modern family planning methods. Despite, these efforts and the huge monies spent, there is still low acceptance of family planning.

Beyond religious and cultural considerations, the problem of family planning has remained persistent. Therefore this study aims at examining the role of media in family planning in Nigeria.

1.3       Objectives of the Study

The study sought to know the role of media in family planning in Nigeria. Specifically, the study sought to;

  1.  examine the relationship between media and family planning.
  2.  examine ways of promoting family planning through media in Nigeria.

iii.   investigate the experiences and perception of the people about media campaign on family planning approaches.

  1. determine barriers associated with family planning and their attendant implications for development.
  2.  articulate a way forward on how effective communication use can achieve a higher impact on reproductive health issues especially on family planning in Nigeria.

1.4       Research Questions

  1.  What is the relationship between media and family planning?
  2.  What are the ways of promoting family planning through media in Nigeria?

iii.   What are the experiences and perception of the people about media campaign on family planning approaches?

  1. What are the barriers associated with family planning and their attendant implications for development?
  2.  What is the way forward on how effective communication use can achieve a higher impact on reproductive health issues especially on family planning in Nigeria?

1.5       Research Hypothesis

Ho: There is no relationship between media and family planning.

1.6       Significance of the Study

This study will be of immense benefit to other researchers who intend to know more on this study and can also be used by non-researchers to build more on their research work. This study contributes to knowledge and could serve as a guide for other study.

1.7       Scope/Limitations of the Study

This study is on the role of media in family planning in Nigeria.

Limitations of study

Financial constraint: Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).

Time constraint: The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.

1.8       Definition of Terms

Role: The function assumed or part played by a person or thing in a particular situation.

Media:  This is the communication outlets or tools used to store and deliver information or data.

Family Planning: The practice of controlling the number of children one has and the intervals between their births, particularly by means of contraception or voluntary sterilization.