The Impact of Multimedia on Family Planning Knowledge

Acquiring knowledge about family planning methods is an important step towards gaining access to and using a suitable contraceptive method in a timely and effective manner. Yet millions of women of reproductive age lack access to effective contraceptive services. Even though the media disseminates information about several family planning methods, there is still a lack of knowledge, information, supply and minimal government support with regards to effective family planning services. It is therefore important to analyze the effects of multimedia family planning promotions on women’s contraceptive use.

Campaigns and programmes to promote family planning in developing countries started in the 1960’s following improvements in child survival which led to a rapid growth in population. Although the number of countries with family planning strategies rose and was met with enthusiasm, family planning promotions have since 1994 steadily dropped down the list of global international development priorities. It can therefore be said that there remains a strong need for an increase in family planning campaigns.

Family planning, and more generally reproductive health programs plays an important role in saving the lives of women and children, in helping couples achieve desired family size and in expanding opportunities for women in their household and their communities. Despite the availability of family planning methods, studies show that the use of contraception is not universal. A study by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has for example shown that there are disparities in access to family planning in Sub-Saharan Africa linked to key social and economic issues. The unmet need for family planning exist in all parts of the developing world. Communication campaigns can initiate, accelerate and sustain family planning behavior change.  For example, they can educate people on their choices, inform them of the sources of supply, address misconceptions, and introduce new values. The effectiveness of communication campaigns in general and family planning campaigns remains controversial.

There are many organizations and individuals who believe that the most effective way to communicate family planning messages is through professional staff at clinics, and that media campaigns are not effective, while others argue that women in reproductive age (15-49 years) who recall family planning messages from media end up using this information.

In conclusion, contraceptive prevalence is still low in most of African Countries despite many organizations providing family planning services including Marie Stopes, Population Services International (PSI) and Engender Health. There is need to increase and support campaigns on family planning through different media to increase people’s knowledge about contraceptives, their uses and side effects. Effective approaches towards increasing knowledge and use of contraception implemented by policymakers and health practitioners can contribute towards reaching the Sustainable Development Goal on health and well-being.

Featured image | No protection no affection: Creative Commons

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Best of Africa.

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