Adaptation of community-based distribution of family planning services to context-specific social networks: a case of marriage counsellors in Lusaka district, Zambia

Nyundo, Lucy, Whittaker, Maxine, Eagle, Lynne, and Low, David R. (2021) Adaptation of community-based distribution of family planning services to context-specific social networks: a case of marriage counsellors in Lusaka district, Zambia. BMC Health Services Research, 21. 437.

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Background: The significant contribution of community-based distribution (CBD) of family planning services and contraceptives to the uptake of contraceptives in hard-to-reach communities has resulted in the scaling-up of this approach in many Sub-Saharan countries. However, contextual factors need to be taken into consideration. For example, social network influence (e.g. spouse/partner, in-laws, and parents) on fertility decisions in many African and Asian societies is inevitable because of the social organisational structures. Hence the need to adapt CBD strategies to the social network context of a given society.

Methods: Data collection involved structured interviews from August 2018 to March 2019. Randomly selected respondents (n = 149) were recruited from four purposively selected health facilities in Lusaka district, Zambia. Respondents were screened for age (> 15 yrs.) and marital status. A mix of categorical and qualitative data was generated. The Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS®24) was used to carry out descriptive analysis and tests of association (Fisher’s exact) while Nvivo®12 was used to analyse the qualitative data using a deductive thematic approach.

Results: The results indicate that pre-marriage counselling (pre-MC) influences key elements of the husband-wife relationship (p > 0.005), namely; sexual relationship, inter-personal communication, assignation of roles and responsibilities, leadership and authority. These elements of the husband-wife relationship also affect how spouses/partners interact when making fertility decisions. More importantly, the majority (86%) of the respondents indicated having a continuing relationship with their marriage counsellors because of the need to consult them on marital issues.

Conclusion: Marriage counsellors, though hardly reported in fertility studies, are important ‘constituents’ of the social network in the Zambian society. This is because marriage counsellors are trusted sources of information about marital issues and often consulted about family planning but perceived not to have the correct information about modern contraceptives. In this context, pre-MC offers a readily available, sustainable and culturally appropriate platform for disseminating accurate information about modern contraceptives provided in a private and personal manner. Therefore, the CBD strategy in Zambia can harness marriage counsellors by recruiting and training them as community agents.

Item ID: 69071
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1472-6963
Keywords: community-based distribution, Pre-marital Counselling, Social networks, Fertility decisions
Copyright Information: © The Author(s). 2021 Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.
Funders: James Cook University (JCU)
Projects and Grants: JCU College of Business, Law and Governance
Date Deposited: 19 Aug 2021 23:33
FoR Codes: 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4206 Public health > 420605 Preventative health care @ 33%
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