Position: Behavioural Change Communications Specialist (PSI Fellow)
Organization: PACE, Uganda
Christopher Meraiyebu is a Behavioral Change Communications Specialist (PSI Fellow) at PACE, Uganda, leading the social marketing team of demand creation officers. He currently coordinates a team of over 400 voluntary IPC agents that carry out community-based sensitization and demand-creation activities for family planning. He is also an advocate of increased male involvement in family planning; at the 2016 International Conference on Family Planning, he presented his dissertation showing increased interest among southwestern Nigerian men to share in the burden of family planning by accepting reversible male methods.
“He is a PSI Fellow working in Uganda as a Behavioral Change Communication Specialist. He is a Pharmacist with a Masters degree in Public Health and has dedicated the last 8 years to his passion of SBCC, PBCC and Demand Creation for FP services.“
– Billy Shoaga, Pharmacist/Demand creation at Self Employed
Describe your contributions to and achievements in family planning.
My passion is to ensure women have the Sexual and Reproductive Health information they need to make informed choices. I led the social marketing team of demand creation officers that contributed over 30% of the 3.4 Million CYPs produced by SFH Nigeria Annually. We carried out continuous Social and Behavioral Change Communication activities in communities and provider BCC to ensure availability of quality services. I currently coordinate a team of over 400 voluntary IPC agents that carryout community based sensitization and demand creation activities for FP. I am an advocate of increased male involvement in FP. At ICFP 2016 I presented my dissertation that shows increased interest among South Western Nigerian men to share in the burden of FP by accepting reversible male methods.
What sparked your passion for family planning?
My life experiences sparked my passion for FP. I have lost family members and friends to complications of child birth. I was raised in a patriarchal society where women have little or no say on issues that concern their bodies or their lives. A society where the educated are still influenced by culture and misconceptions with contraceptive discontinuation remaining a major challenge even in urban areas. Promoting the use of FP is therefore my way of influencing positive change in my society.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your family planning efforts, and what have you done to overcome it?
My biggest challenge is when i meet providers that uphold myths and misconceptions of Family Planning. Providers are very influential in their communities and whatever they say is considered to be law. Behavioral change in such communities are more difficult. However Applying Provider behavioral Change communication strategies and working with Family planning advocates as well as satisfied users have been effective in winning them over.
What is your (country/region/city)’s biggest challenge in family planning, and how can it be addressed?
Socio-cultural barriers, myths and misconceptions associated with the use of family planning are the major challenges that has kept Nigeria’s Contraceptive prevalence rate at 15% since 2008. This is in spite of the availability of free and highly subsidized commodities. Initiating community dialogues that involve religious and traditional rulers as well as prioritizing male involvement is helping to increase FP uptake. Intensifying these efforts is an ideal way of addressing these challenges.
What do you want to accomplish in the next 5 years?
In the next five years, I hope to influence a significant increase in FP Dialogue among men. I will advocate for interventions that would support more male friendly family planning clinics. I would also complete a PhD with a thesis on how to promote the use of the new reversible male methods in order for men to significantly share in the burden of family planning.