SBC Primary Enabler For Health Promotion, Says Minister

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The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire.

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire has emphasised that social and behaviour change (SBC) is essential for health promotion in the country.

Ehanire spoke at a project dissemination meeting of the USAID’s Global Health Bureau flagship SBC research and evaluation project in Nigeria. He explained that an integrated approach that includes interpersonal communication, mid-media, and intensive media, including vibrant social media, can bring about significant change in health promotion.

Ehanire thanked USAID’s Global Health Bureau and other stakeholders for equipping the country with the data and evidence needed to integrate proven and cost-effective SBC approaches into its programmes.

USAID’s Breakthrough Research project, which brought together five consortium partners, was also highlighted at the meeting. The project conducts research and evaluation, promoting evidence-based solutions to improve health and development programs globally. It addresses key questions related to SBC programming, such as “What works?” “How can it work best?” “How much does it cost?” “Is it cost-effective?” and “How can it be replicated, scaled and sustained locally?”

The technical lead of Breakthrough Research, Dr. Paul Hutchinson explained that the aim of the project was to assess the effectiveness of integrated versus malaria-only SBC on malaria, family planning and maternal and child health (MNCH) behaviours and ideations among pregnant women and women with a child under two years.

Hutchinson said that Behavioural Sentinel Surveillance (BSS) measures priority behavioural outcomes, including malaria (LLIN use, IPTp, fever treatment/diagnosis), family planning (modern contraceptive use, postpartum family planning) and MNCH (ANC, facility-based delivery, newborn and postpartum care, routine immunisation, breastfeeding/nutrition, childhood illness care-seeking and treatment).

The study design was a cross-sectional and cohort component quasi-experimental and dose-response design, conducted in September 2019, with midline and end-line planned. The sample size was 3,032 pregnant women and 3,043 women with a child under two years, and the sample method was 108 wards across three states; census of pregnant women and random selection of women with children under two years.

Data analysis showed that predicted probabilities of outcomes were derived using mixed-effects logistic regression models adjusted for ideational and sociodemographic variables: wealth, age, education and employment (respondent and spouse).

Breakthrough Research project director, Population Council Washington, Dr. Laura Reichenbach stated that USAID/Nigeria has invested in Breakthrough-Research/Nigeria (B-R/N) since 2019 to expand the evidence base on integrated, multi-component health programmes and to address priority programmatic research questions pertaining to SBC for maternal and child health/family planning and reproductive health (MNCHN/FP/RH) and malaria. B-R/N will work closely with its sister project, Breakthrough ACTION/Nigeria (B-A/N), to generate evidence that informs program implementation and adaptation.

B-A/N is implementing SBC programming in 11 states and Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Behavioural change is a complex phenomenon influenced by various factors within and outside the individual. As such, the key evidence and insights from the project will be prioritised in Nigeria’s strategic plan for health promotion review by 2024.

Breakthrough Research’s SBC programming positively shifts health-seeking behaviours, improves provider behaviour, and fosters supportive social norms.

Baseline results from the Behavioural Sentinel Surveillance (BSS) project have informed SBC program scale-up and adaption, highlighted ideations and behaviours during the baseline period, and linked BSS results with routine.

Racheal Abujah
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