Position: SRHR program officer, FP advocate/peer educator
Organization: Women’s Health and Action Research Centre
Isaac Ejakhegbe has over five years of experience working in maternal and child health care provision, health promotion and family planning. A program officer at the Women’s Health and Action Research Centre, he is also the Assistant Managing Editor at the African Journal of Reproductive Health. Isaac holds an MS in Applied Health Social Sciences from the School of Public Health, University of Ghana, where he was named the top student in his graduating cohort. He has been a UNICEF Peer Educator under the National Reproductive Health HIV/AIDS Prevention and Care Project in Northern Nigerian, and a community health officer at Joy Maternity Clinic, Edo state, Nigeria. He is in the 2016 class of the Women Deliver Young Leaders.
“His cousin died of unsafe abortion another was suspended from high school owning to teenage pregnancy. Today he uses his experience passionately as a platform to advocate on SRHR, family planning, safe abortion, as well as youth critical role on girls and women access to family planning services.“
Describe your contributions to and achievements in family planning.
My contributions has been on SRHR/FP research, advocacy and project implementation. As SRHR Program Officer for Safe Abortion Action Fund (SAAF) at the Women’s Health and Action Research Centre, I and a team are implementing a project on “Women Accessing New Technology” aimed at increasing women and girls access to FP & medicated abortion services in Nigeria. Also my passion for FP made me focused my graduate research on gender equality, women empowerment and contraceptive use aimed at advocating for a broader health policy, programming and financing for women and girls access to FP and how male can be supportive on women access to FP services. Again, through an APP (WHARC reprohealth App) coupled with, adolescent and youth friendly services at the NGO, I am making impact on young people.
What sparked your passion for family planning?
The death of my cousin from unsafe abortion and the suspension of another from high school due to teenage pregnancy sparked my passion on SRHR & FP. I know if they have had proper knowledge on contraception they would have been able to take care of themselves. It is with this background that I have been very passionate about promoting, supporting, and advocating with and for young people to continue fighting the stigma and taboos surrounding their access to contraception / safe sex education.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your family planning efforts, and what have you done to overcome it?
A major challenge I have faced in my FP efforts is being a church worker and a youth yet involved in SRHR/ FP issues. Too often I am nicknamed and seen as religious hypocrite since I proffer other options, apart from abstinence sexuality information. However, I rather see it as an opportunity to support/advocate since we need young folks within the religious circle who will advocate on SRHR/FP and why young people should protect themselves & have access to youth friendly services & information.
What is your (country/region/city)’s biggest challenge in family planning, and how can it be addressed?
Challenges are weak implementation of adolescent/youth SRHR policies. FP programs are not designed with young people’s input. Also they are not seen as experts, particularly in terms of their own experience. However, interventions should be developed with a true understanding of the challenges from the perspective of young people with full implementation of the 1995 national adolescent health policy as well as the 1999 national strategic framework for adolescent reproductive health in Nigeria.
What do you want to accomplish in the next 5 years?
In five years time, I want my effort to lead to a situation in my community where youth advocate, and sexually active young people are free to talk about FP/access FP services free of religious and cultural sentiments. Also I want my effort to equally push for the full implementation of the 1995 national adolescent health policy by the government of my country and engage young people in SRHR/FP program design, implementation & evaluation while ensuring healthy lives and wellbeing of her citizens