Female functional literacy for health (FFLH): experience from the field

  • Akin Osibogun Department of Community Health, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria
  • KA Odeyemi Department of Community Health, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria
  • SO Okoye Department of Community Health, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria

Abstract

In recognition of the fact that literacy has multiple benefits by impacting on infant mortality rate, fertility rate, appropriate utilization of health services, and other behaviour related to health, the female functional literacy in health project (FFLH) was implemented in selected communities in Nigeria. This study reports the findings of an assessment study conducted in two such communities in Benue and Niger states, Nigeria to determine the effect of the project on knowledge, skills and practices among participants that can improve individual and family health. This study showed that participation in FFLH project greatly improved ability to read and write in local language and participation in income generating activities. The cooperative societies to which FFLH project participants belonged were also more likely to be involved in income generating activities and to maintain savings bank accounts. Access to resources through participation in income generating activities might be responsible for the finding that FFLH project participants (19.9%) were more able to pay by themselves for medical treatment when required, compared to women not in the FFLH project (10.5%). More FFLH participants (81.7%) than non-participants (69.3%) administer ORT when their children have diarrhea. Similarly more FFLH women (47.6%) than non FFLH women (34.5%) kept growth monitoring charts for their children. FFLH project participants were more likely to use acceptable refuse and sewage disposal methods, use safer sources of water and treat water before drinking than non-project participants. Observation of the physical environment of the residences also showed that the surroundings of the houses of FFLH participants were generally cleaner than that of non-participants. The findings of this study demonstrate that the FFLH project significantly improves literacy skills, participation in income generating activities and positive health practices. It is recommended that the project be replicated in more communities in Nigeria so that more women can benefit from it.

Keywords: female, functional literacy, field experience

Nigerian Medical Practitioner Vol. 48(4) 2005: 110-115
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Articles

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eISSN: 0189-0964