Helen Odega

Helen Odega - 2016 Nominee
Position: Executive Director
Organization: Centre for Women's Health and Adolescents' Development
Mrs. Odega has been actively involved in promoting family planning using the male and female condoms, especially among young women and female sex workers. She organizes medical outreaches through her NGO and uses that medium to educate people. – Nominator
Describe your contributions to and achievements in family planning.

I work to promote and improve access to family planning and reproductive health services among young people in Nigeria. I also work with HIV infected young people to ensure they have access to family planning commodities such as the male and female condoms and to promote its use among this group. I have successfully reached over 3,000 young persons within the last 2years with my family planning programs. As a billings method instructor, i have also counseled several couples and provided linkages through my NGO to other facilities providing family planning services. In 2014, my organization worked as an implementing partner to promote the use of female condom for family planning, on the Universal Access to Female Condom project implemented in my community.

What sparked your passion for family planning?

The rate of unplanned pregnancies among young people in my community and the high maternal mortality rate in Nigeria sparked my interest in family planning. Curbing maternal mortality is one of the reasons i established my NGO, and am passionate about this, having lost my biological mother to the same cause. Maternal death from complications resulting from poor child spacing is highly preventable. This also spurred my interest to contribute my quota through family planning campaign and outreach

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your family planning efforts, and what have you done to overcome it?

Societal acceptance of the family planning options, especially the use of the male and female condoms, was a challenge i had to deal with. There are several myths and misconceptions driving the poor access to family planning especially among young people who need the services the most. Under the auspices of my NGO, i organize medical outreaches which provides me the opportunity to provide health education to communities with a view to correcting the misconceptions.

What is your (country/region/city)’s biggest challenge in family planning, and how can it be addressed?

Generally, funding of the health sector in Nigeria is very poor. This has affected various factions of the health sector, including family planning. There is need for improved government commitment in ensuring quality reproductive health services for its citizens, though adequate funding. Nigeria is a very populous country with unmet need for Family planning especially among young people. An improvement in funding with ultimately improve access to family planning and reduce maternal mortality

What do you want to accomplish in the next 5 years?

In the next 5years i want to have tripled the number of persons reached with my family planning programs. I also hope to have established a stable funding source for the sustainability of my NGO's family planning programs. I hope to build global partnerships with organizations that will promote and enhance the impact of my family planning effort. I also hope that maternal mortality would have been significantly reduced and that my NGO's contributions will be noteworthy in Nigeria.

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