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Improving Health and Gender Outcomes for First-Time Parents in Cross River State, Nigeria

In 2018, the Evidence to Action (E2A) Project and Pathfinder International, in partnership with the Cross River State Ministry of Health (MOH), launched a new effort to advance postpartum health and gender outcomes for young first-time parents (FTPs) in Cross River State (CRS), Nigeria.

Implemented through the Saving Mothers, Giving Life (SMGL) initiative, the FTP component focused specifically on healthy timing and spacing of pregnancy (HTSP), family planning (FP), exclusive breastfeeding, positive parenting, and related gender issues for young FTPs. The project defines FTPs as women under 25 years who are pregnant with or have their first child and their partners. Informed by a qualitative formative assessment conducted in 2017, E2A designed multiple, coordinated interventions addressing priority postpartum outcomes for this vulnerable youth population.

The interventions targeted young first-time mothers (FTMs), their key influencers—especially partners/husbands and older women—and their communities, including a network of community- and facility-based health care providers. The SMGL FTP experience generated valuable evidence and insights about this vulnerable youth population and how best to respond to their complex health needs. This report presents an overview of SMGL’s multi-intervention FTP component, the health- and gender-related results achieved, and several implementation learnings. The report also provides a set of conclusions and recommendations to inform future FTP programming in Nigeria and across the globe.

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