AWARENESS OF REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH ISSUES THROUGH THE MEDIA AND INTERPERSONAL CHANNELS IN AWGU LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF ENUGU STATE
This project work was centered on Awareness of reproductive health issues through the media and interpersonal channels in Awgu L.G.A. The purpose of the study is to determine how effective are the two channels “radio” and “interpersonal” channel in letting the Awgu local community know about reproductive health vis–a-vis family planning. Communicating Developing issues to the people has been a task so onerous and the appropriateness of the media in communicating same necessitated this research effort. Therefore, Survey method was applied in the research where a sample of 398 respondents was made to evaluate the two channels of communication in the Local Government. Findings indicated that radio is mostly preferred and effective in creating awareness on Reproductive Health (family planning) compared to the interpersonal mode of communication. The study became necessary with a view to laying more emphasis on the need to make modern mass media accessible in the rural areas.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
In every society, concerns have been high on the reproductive health of the women in such societies. The continuum of factors connected with it has made efforts to be expended on making the realization of the health of women practicable. Aside from safe motherhood, prevention of infertility and sexual dysfunction in both sexes, prevention of reproductive tract infections, and prevention of complications associated with abortion and miscarriage, family planning has assumed a wholesome position in the reproductive health of the woman.
Family planning has been concerned with population control which has been on since the time of Thomas Malthus (1766-1834) over two hundred years ago .This English Economist gave serious attention to this issue of family planning and population control .His first published work was in 1798 under the title of an essay on principle of population as it affects the improvement of society.
Before one can talk on the Awareness of Reproductive Health issues through the media and interpersonal channels in Awgu local government Area of Enugu State, it is important to draw us back to the meaning of communication, reproductive health ,radio ,interpersonal channel, and family planning. Communication according to Frank Ugboaja (1985:12), is the process that involves all acts of transmitting messages to channel which link people to the languages and symbolic codes which are used to transmit messages, the means by which messages are received and stored, and the rules, customs and conventions which define and regulate human relationship and events. Ndolo (2006:10) opined that communication is a process of understanding and sharing ideas, feelings, meanings and or messages between people .Also citing Dance(1990), Ndolo went on to state that communication is the process by which we understand others and in turn endeavor to be understood by them. It is dynamic, constantly changing and shifting in response to a total situation .For the purpose of this study however, communication is defined as a dynamic link that influences both individual motivation and group behavior in any given group. Reproductive Health according to Nwokedi(2008)is a training programme designed to assist program planners and implementers to achieve a suitable development .Reproductive health according to the World Health Organization definition is “the state of complete mental, physical and social well-being of an individual and not merely the absence of sex or infirmity in all matters relating to reproductive systems ,its functions and processes”. Radio in this study is a channel of transmitting messages to a vast audience simultaneously. While Interpersonal channel in this study will be defined as an effective means of communication between and amongst individuals which results to an automatic feedback. Chasteen, (1971:320) defines family planning as the activity that enables every family to have as many children as they want and when they want them. Again, the Catholic Church defined family planning as the privilege and obligation of married couple exclusively to decide with love how many children they want to have and can provide for them, this means is justified. (Catholic Herald 1990: 9). But for the purpose of this study .Family planning is the spacing out of child birth in a family as to have a manageable family size with or without the use of contraception. This means, educating and encouraging them to space / limit the number of children and ensure ultimate family health. Subsequently, health according to World Health Organization (WHO) is a state of complete mental, physical and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease .For the purpose of this study, therefore, Health is the state or condition of a person’s body being physically and mentally healthy. So, family planning is a growing science with the fundamental objective of making services and devices available for maintaining optimal family health. The media as has been established can provide for audience members as a definition of the situation on a variety of issues, by emphasizing certain topics, stressing particular interpretations and projecting specific themes. Simply by their presence, the media have changed the nature of societal communication norms. Large audience have been created that expects the media to provide continuous flow of news , entertainment, political commentary and other types of messages .People depend on the media for various forms of gratifications based on content if denied such communication, they feel deprived.(Berelson 1950 :889-896) .
The influence of mass media on human behavior has therefore been the subject of many research works over the years .While some studies suggest that mass media has little effects on human behavior since people were more influenced by personal contacts and selective perception (Lazarsfeld et al 1948).Later research looking at more and sophisticated campaigns packaged to change a variety of behavior shows that mass media campaign have indeed been able to change behavior ,probably because they were well planned and executed or because they relied more on audience research and mobilized personal and community interaction (Piotrow ,1994:32).However , the question remains ,can mass media health promotion program change behavior ? if yes ,to what extent can this happen and if No, why? .No doubt, the mass media plays a crucial role in educating members of the society .Education in its broadcast and print sense comprises of intellectual development ,exposure to threats and opportunities, acquisition of skill and capabilities ,exposure to new ideas and information including formation of character. The spread of Christianity with its continuation of respect for human life also aggravated the population problem of people who previously kept down members by such practice as infanticide. The problems are both varied and far reaching in their effects for, most of his history, man’s main concern like that of other animals has been food and shelter .Though for many people in the 20th century, this problem no longer exists. It is still for people in many countries a serious question for the world as a whole.
Furthermore, the factors that directly or indirectly influence the way and manner which the media play this important role has remained controversial among media scholars, experts and practitioners. While some scholars believe that mass media coverage of events and issues is anchored on factors such as news relevance, accessibility, staff composition, and timeliness, others are of the opinion that journalists only pay attention to news items that have economic value .However, the role which the mass media have played in creating and sustaining awareness of family planning program and population control is very remarkable.
Harold D. Lasswell (1948:24)opined that the foremost function of the press in any democratic state is to provide surveillance of the environment, disclosing threats and opportunities affecting the position of the community and the component parts within it. Similarly, Charles Wright (2004:13) a renowned communicator opined that the mass media has the major and primary function of informing, educating, and entertaining its audience. Accordingly, a responsible mass medium of communication should inform, educate, entertain and sensitize the people for development. It is obvious that men’s attitude, judgment and general outlook on most socio-political and other important issues are heavily influenced by his exposure to ideas and suggestion constantly fed to him by the mass media, radio to be precise. There is always some amount of responsibilities imposed on the mass media by the people. It is then the duty of the mass media to guide its audience towards a more purposeful and development oriented goals. Apart from educating people on varied areas and exposing them to new ideas , opinions ,and information, a responsible mass media should equally expose the citizens to the acceptance and practice of healthy practices which will not only guarantee their health but also bring them happiness and prosperity .Moreover, journalists who are trained to do this job must employ more tact and creativity in reporting health issues since a planned family is a healthy family. This is one of the biggest challenges of development communication and national development. Nwosu (1990:23) defined creative development journalism as a brand of journalism that uses intelligence and imagination to produce ideas, opinions and facts that will help the country source its multifarious problems ,deal with new challenges and continue the march towards increased political and socio-economic development. He went further to postulate that the new journalism which will produce tangible results must be guided by a new journalistic philosophy. This philosophy will be anchored on dedication to duty, professionalism in training and practice and most importantly, integrity.
In 1969, President Julius Nyerere of Tanzania says “giving birth is something to which mankind are equal, but rearing the young for many years is something which is a unique gift and the responsibility of a man”. It is certain that media coverage of some programs in the society has yielded tremendous result and among such programs is the reproductive health issue that comprises family planning programs and population control. Family planning is an old concept that has been applied in various ways by people. The term became the identified word for this old phenomenon when social effects of abandoned babies, high rate of maternal deaths resulting from illegal abortions and problems associated with having too many children than the family income could bear were observed by psychologists and health workers in 1916. Family planning was first tried on animals by Arabians whose main means of traveling was animals mostly camels. Fine stones were inserted into the uterus of the female camels during caravan or long journeys to prevent unwanted pregnancies, since it weakens and impairs movement of camels.
As a means of controlling birth, Margaret Sanger, an Irish American nurse set up a family planning clinic in New York City in 1916.Sangers action was necessitated by the death of her close friend in child birth in her 12th pregnancy which was against her will. Marie Stopes followed Margaret’s idea and set up a birth control clinic in London in 1972.This attempts never yielded the desired impacts until 1952 when family planning made its first impact in the international scene. That year, a conference on family planning was held in Bombay On November 29, 1952 and that conference brought the birth of the International Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria (IPPFN) under the joint chairmanship of Margaret Sanger and lady Rania Rau. At the onset ,the practical aspect of family planning was slowly accepted .However , Sweden in 1958,became the first country to allocate funds for assistance on family planning program. The United States of America (USA)followed suit in 1965 with its grant for the same purpose .Perhaps, the first inception of family planning in Nigeria was in 1950 for two reasons : one, there was increase in criminal abortions and deaths among married and single women., two, the dumping and throwing away of new born babies without official fathers .
In 1976, which was twenty-four years after the birth of IPPF and sixty years after Sanger opened the first birth control clinic, the world action on family planning was taken. In that year, seventy-eight countries pledged funds to the United Nations Funds for Population Activities (UNFPA).During these years of struggle for family planning, the proponents of this phenomenon did not see it as an instrument for population control but as an exercise for public health designed to improve the health of the mother and child in the family and reduce the burden of family care on the father. It was when social scientists began to take greater interests in the exercise that it was identified as a ,means of controlling world population and consequently national and world health .The development of national and world economy today depends on planning which makes use of population problems ,Malthus noted that world population was increasing faster than the rate at which food was being produced .He postulated that world economic order was developing in arithmetical progression:1 ,2,3,4,5,………..while population was developing in geometrical progression :1 ,3 ,5 ,8, 11………..,.Family planning has come a long way and today it has gained worldwide recognition not only as a health technique but as an economic technique for many countries of the world including Nigeria .In 1952,Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria became the first to start family planning services in Nigeria .Family planning in Nigeria is an outcome of United Nations Declaration and Social Consanguinity to couples and society .
Nigerians preferred abstinence from sex ,prolonged location and locally available plants to ensure proper spacing of the birth of children .The oil seed of Bucholozia Macrophila is said to have estrogenic effect and has been used by Nigerian women in Zaria to reduce menstrual flow .Though some years ago ,the Nigerian government embarked on Family Planning Programs ,which have been receiving wide coverage in the mass media –Radio ,Television ,Newspaper ,Magazines ,Billboards ,Posters etc. Modern Family planning program have been on over three decades .The proposals established the Family Planning Council of Nigeria and was considered after the occurrence of two tragic crises of septic abortions .The case attracted the attention of the Marriage Guidance Council Lagos which led to the establishment of family planning clinic in 1958 in Lagos .It drew financial assistance from the Pathfinder Fund Population Council and International Planned Parenthood Federation .Prior to the establishment ,Miss Edith Gate of Pathfinder Fund visited Nigeria in 1962. Her meeting with the members of National Council of Women Societies (NCWS) led to the setting up of a family planning Committee with responsibilities for family activities and marriage counseling .The committee later became the Family Planning Council of Nigeria(FPCN)with a group of volunteers and International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF)standing at the main door.
In 1958,the government adopted a policy though not made compulsory of four children to a woman properly spaced out .This announcement was made by Nigerian’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice, prince Bola Ajibola on 4th February 1998.This could not be given the force of law because of government concern for the people’s religion and custom. However ,a persuasive approach was used to enable the citizenry imbibe the attitude of having only the number of children the family income could adequately carter for .The objective of this policy was to protect the health of mother and child ,reduction of the proportion of women who get married before the age of eighteen by fifty percent (50%)by the year 1995 and by eighty percent (80%)by the year 2000.All these efforts are aimed at curbing the fast growing population of the country ,which experts believe will rank the fourth in the world by the year 2025. Nigeria is by far the most populous country in Africa .According to the 1991 census, the population of Nigeria was 88.5million and it was clear that the rapid growth of population not its size, that affects social and economic well being and the Nigeria population is growing at an alarming rate ,adding about three million people annually. The population of Awgu local community according to the 2006 census is 197,292; but for the purpose of convenience, the 1991 population census will be used because the2006 census has not been broken down yet and the research work needs a break down for convenience sake .The two figures has no wide margin difference and that’s why the researcher have decided to make use of the 1991 population census.
On march 14th 1989,the national policy on population was launched by president Ibrahim Babangida to achieve development ,unity ,progress ,and self reliance .The height was the endorsement of a population policy of four children per woman ,since families are finding it difficult to afford three meals a day, with the threat of starvation ,hunger and malnutrition assuming astronomical dimensions.
This ugly prospect ,forced many voluntary organizations and individual philanthropists to join in the crusade to curb population explosions in Nigeria .Such agencies as Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria (PPFN),United States Agency for International Development (USAID),National Council for Women Society(NCWS Nigerian branch)and some concerned individuals to enlighten the citizenry through the mass media on the importance of curbing the family size by applying various family planning devices .Radio, Television, and printed materials are their main instrument of enlightenment campaign and programs are produced in English and vernacular to ensure that both the learned and the unlearned become part of the crusade. Such programs on Sunrise Enugu as “you and the family ”,”family background”, parents and children relationship and a radio Nigeria Enugu programme like ,”let them live”, “Ndi Nne Mama “,”A New beginning “and Omulu Zuo “ are all created to arouse the consciousness of the people on the dangers of breeding more children than the family income can adequately carter for.
Attracted by such grand stride by Nigerian government to curb population growth, the USAID promised in December 1988 to grant Nigeria the sum of 208 million Naira as aid for the Ministry of Health and PPFN to mount serious media campaigns programme against population explosion. By 1989, a substantive part of this money has been received .The PPFN procured large quantity of condoms which were distributed free of charge to people .These programs on the media tend to change peoples attitudes towards the concept and this tends to affect people s lives for good. Both Nwuneli and Simons et al have done much studies on family planning and have found out that the mass media is a dependable tool of fighting reproductive health related problems e.g. Family planning and also on mass media effects on human behavior and one of the authorities in this area Joseph T. Klapper defines mass media effects as a result of exposure to persuasive messages carried by the media .Klapper in conclusion posits that mass communication ordinarily does not serve as a necessary and sufficient cause of audience effects but rather functions among and through a nexus of mediating factors and influences .”No wonder then that media coverage of family planning programs and population control must have positive and tremendous impact on the lives of Nigeria since there were many reported cases of the deadly disease “Kwashiorkor” among Nigeria infants .A visit to any of our medical institution would confirm this assertion .This disease is caused by insufficient protein in the body.
There is also the problem of non-availability of rural radio in the South Eastern Nigeria due to the absence of mass media (both radio) institutions which are not stationed in the rural areas but in the urban areas. In the rural communities in Nigeria, hundreds of women die annually as a result of complications associated with poor maternal care, abortions and miscarriages. Infertility and reproductive dysfunction in both sexes is assuming an alarming rate, reckless sex drives resulting in unwanted pregnancies have equally given rise to the involvement of the mass media in championing a course of actions towards safe motherhood, family planning and other associated indexes of reproductive health of the woman.
1.2 STATEMENT OF RESEARCH PROBLEM
The Nigerian rural societies have been known for high rate of reckless sex life, resulting in countless children that the people are not only unable to cater for, but contributing to the myriads of societal problems like prostitution, robbery, kidnapping, rape and abortions.
Every day, the number of people being infected with sexually transmitted infections as well as HIV/AIDS in the rural areas is on a geometric increase.(USAID,2009)
Traditional abortions and self-help or induced treatments have equally contributed to high maternal rate in Nigeria’s rural communities. Hardly do the rural people understand the concept of sexual maturity, responsible and safe sex. Traditional harmful practices like female genital mutilation, premature marriage, rape and domestic sexual violence against women has further worsened the matter.
It is however not disputable that Radio being one of the most revered and mostly accessible media by the rural people have been actively involved in the sensitization of the people on these issues. Interpersonal channels have at some points been invested in the process, but what is still unresolved and debatable is the extent to which Radio and interpersonal channels have been involved in the creation of awareness on the reproductive health issues particularly on the people of Awgu local communities and the consequent impact or effect in the process. This is what stimulated the research interest of this researcher.
PURPOSE OF STUDY
The purpose of this study was hinged on ascertaining the effectiveness of the communication media (Radio) and interpersonal channels in the transfer of Development Communication messages such as the Reproductive Health issues e.g FamilyPlanning.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
Every communication effort aims at achieving some sets of goals. No sponsor will invest heavily in any communication campaign without expecting intended results. This study is designed to achieve the under listed objectives.
1. To know the accessibility of the Awgu people to the radio stations like sunrise FM, Radio Nigeria and Ray Power FM, Enugu.
2. To ascertain the level of exposure of these people to these radio stations.
3. To know if the people of Awgu understands the concept of reproductive health and all adjoining components.
4. To determine the extent to which Radio and interpersonal channels have been effective in creating awareness of reproductive health issue for these people.
5. To establish the influence of culture on the Media and interpersonal channels sensitization effort.
1.5 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The study will be guided by the following question.
1) To what extent do the Awgu people listen to radio programs?
2) Does the people understand the concept of reproductive health?
3) To what extent does the radio and interpersonal channel been able to create awareness on reproductive health?
4) What is the most dependable medium (media) in the course of awareness creation and sensitization of the people?
5) Does culture influence behavioral and attitudinal change of the people in the context of awareness and sensitization on reproductive health?
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
From all intents and purposes, this research work is highly significant in a number of ways. Some of the areas where the study is unique are stated below.
1. The outcome of the study will help the Nigerian government at the Federal, State and Local levels in the formulation of policies as it concerns reproductive health of the rural women.
2. The mass media, particularly the radio will develop the most appropriate strategies and methodologies in the packaging and dissemination of programmes on family planning and other components of reproductive health matters to the rural people.
3. International donors like USAID, WHO, UNICEF, GHAIN and Nigerians NACA can use the outcome of this research work as a blue print and a working document in all they will do.
4. The rural people will better appreciate the need for reproductive healthy living on account of this study.
5. When completed, the study will propel research interests among academics while helping them to contribute to debate in media selection for development communication process
6. This study will further enrich the bank of knowledge in cumulative way in this area of learning. By implication, it will add to existing literature on reproductive health, just as it will assist future scholars, researchers, educators and development agencies.
1.6. SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF STUDY
Ordinarily, the study should have been carried out on all the communities in Nigerians but some constraining factors have made the researcher to limit the scope to Awgu rural communities. VIZ Ituku,Agbogugu,Isu-awaa ,.Agbudu, Ihe, Owelli ,Ogbaku, Ogugu ,Ugbo, Amoli, Obeagu ,Mmaku ,Mgbidi,Nkwe ,Awgunta ,Nenwenta ,Ugwueme ,Awgu ,Mgbowo.
The negative attitudes of some parents and young ladies towards the disclosure of some information were a limiting factor. Family planning as a way of population control has not gained popularity thus only a few people were open to respond to the interview schedule distributed while others were pleaded with to complete the interview schedule, Also, the time for data collection always clashed with that of pursuing job employment and other social commitments.
1.7 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Some key terms have been defined for ease.
Awareness: It is a total knowledge that something exists and is also important ,and putting interest in that issue at hand.
Communication: Communication is a dynamic link that influences both individual motivation and group behavior in any given group
Domestic sexual violence: The process of having sex without emotional concentration
Family Planning Program: Those programs formed or used by the mass media to pass on family planning messages to the people
Family Planning: The spacing out of child birth in a family as to have a manageable family size with or without the use of contraception.
Female genital mutilation: This is a situation whereby the clitoris is cut either partially or total removal of the clitoris.
Health: Health is the state or condition of a person’s body being physically and mentally healthy.
HIV/AIDS: This is a viral contagious disease that affects both male and female through heterosexual contact or blood transfusion.
Interpersonal Channels: It is an effective means of communicating between and among individuals which results to an automatic feedback
Maternal mortality rate: The rate or number of deaths among women during child birth as a result of hard labor or other complications that may arise.
Media Campaign: Is a planned and organized series of actions intended to achieve a specific goal through the media.
Media Coverage: This is the range the media are able to cover to meet the needs of its audience or rather the reportage of family planning messages through the media.
Media: Media as used in this study is a collective use of electronic media of radio and television and that of interpersonal communication to communicate family planning information to the rural dwellers.
Population Control: This is a concerted effort adopted to limit or reduce the rate of population growth or explosion.
Population: Is the number of all the people who live in a particular geographical area, city or country.
Radio: Radio is a channel of transmitting messages to a vast audience simultaneously.
Reproductive health issues: It is the state of complete mental, physical and social well-being of an individual and not merely the absence of sex or infirmity in all matters relating to reproductive systems, its functions and processes.
Role: It is the degree to which something is involved in an activity and the effect that they have on it.
Safe Motherhood: The safety of a mother during childbirth or in the course of child delivery.
Safe sex: Sex with all protective measures.
Sexual maturity: the stage whereby a person is said to have sex without anxiety.
STIs: Sexual transmitted infections are sexual disease which can be contracted during sexual intercourse with infected person.