By Foluwakemi Ogunkua, Dionna Oguna, Christopher Isah, Roselyn Odeh
The Adolescent 360 (A360) intervention in Nigeria is designed to give girls, married and unmarried, a holistic package when it comes to adolescent health by creating an enabling environment to improve access to Sexual and Reproductive Health services (SRH). A deep dive into the community using the human-centered design (HCD) approach establishes that contraceptive uptake is relevant for adolescents to enable them achieve their life’s goals and make informed decisions.
Globally, in recent years, adolescent sexual and reproductive health is being prioritized to preclude adverse outcomes such as death, illness, and injury that adolescents face, which can be prevented or treated (Chola et al. 2023). Universal access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services and rights by 2030 feature in goals 3&5 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) under which adolescents are included (WHO, 2019). Adolescents comprise a significant proportion of the population. With this knowledge, the A360 Amplify (A360) for more than 6 years has continued to device means to ensure that adolescent girls receive adequate care and information regarding SRH.
In Northern Nigeria, Matasa Matan Arewa (MMA programme was designed for young married adolescent girls aged 15-19 to promote modern contraception as a tool to help them achieve those goals and plan their families. Under the programme, it was believed that our target group has key influencers, who had to be reached with proper information and get their buy in to support their adolescent wives when embarking on a family planning journey.
Who are key Influencers?
Key Influencers are person(s) that have a huge influence on the lives of adolescent girls. In the case of the married girls in Northern Nigeria, husbands, community, and religious leaders, have the influence in ensuring adolescent girls access modern contraceptives. This is imperative to creating an enabling environment for them to feel safe in voluntarily choosing a method of modern contraceptive.
A360 Male Interpersonal Communication Agent (Male IPCA) having a session with husbands in a community.
At A360 Nigeria, we developed a strategy that infuses engagement of girls with their husbands through Male Interpersonal Communication Agents (Male IPCAs). The implementation of the strategy was co-facilitated by the community, religious leaders, and support of A360 trained personnel who are proficient in husband engagement to share information with husbands of adolescent girls using a male discussion flip chart filled with basic family planning and child spacing messages that would captivate the husbands. The Male IPCAs visit hot spots such as majalisas (a place where a group of men, usually in the same age group and/or have things in common sit to discuss.), motor parks, tea shops (Mashai), where group of men meet, to create awareness and promote family planning. After each discussions, referral cards are issued to husbands to give their wives to come to the facility to uptake a method and/or attend the Life Family and Health classes. As at March 2023, the key influencers strategy has reached 149,879 husbands and 728 community and religious leaders in 4 states which has continuously increased in contraceptives adoption rates and access knowledge of SRH information by adolescent girl aged 15-19 years.