The Role Of Mass Media In Enlightening Nursing Mothers On The Benefits Of Exclusive Breast Feeding (EBF)

Medical and Health Science Project and Seminar Material

The Role Of Mass Media In Enlightening Nursing Mothers On The Benefits Of Exclusive Breast Feeding (EBF)


Mass media are often used to achieve audience mobilization and participation in the process of development. Often times, however, it fails to achieve the purpose for which it was designed owning to many factors. It is pertinent to ensure that such development communications are properly planned and designed so as to meet the target group and achieve the set objectives. This study examined the role of mass media in enlightening nursing mothers on the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding in Nigeria while analyzing the perceptions of women regarding the campaigns and the various media used in the exercise, it identified the various constraints in the utilization of the media to reach the envisioned audience. The study focused on Abia state. Anchored on the innovation diffusion theory, this survey research employed questionnaire as the major instrument of data collection. The data collected was presented in simple tables and percentages. The findings of this research findings include; interpersonal communication is the most effective mode of communication in communicating the exclusive breastfeeding campaigns, the campaigns do run in adequate volumes to effect behavioral change among these women, majority of the women reserve their predisposition towards exclusive breast-feeding in spite the campaigns and that they have challenges using the media through which they receive information on exclusive breast-feeding. Recommendations made at the end of this research work will help to enhance the planning and designing of the mass media in the state and Nigeria as a whole.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

The sustainable development of a country lies in how effective communication is. The media is a powerful tool that drives the all round development of a country. The media has the tendency of packaging the programmes and policies of the government in such a way that it is understood by all and sundry, in other to pass across a message.

The media through its campaigns and advertisements package programmes that will enhance the development of the country. Though it is not all about packaging the message, but it all about ensuring the message meets its target audience and its purpose well achieved.

In carrying out development campaigns, the people have to be involved in the process (Okunna, 2001, p:299). Many developmental campaigns have been carried out in Nigeria, but the truth remains on how they can be achieved. One of such campaigns is on Exclusive breast feeding.

The media, considering the various functions it performs can achieve 100 percent progress in enlightening nursing mothers about exclusive breast feeding.

Moreover, considering two of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which arereducingchild mortality and improving maternal health before 2020; effective media campaign if carried out can help achieve these goals

(WHO, 2005).This will be possible because one of the benefits of EBF is reducing child mortality and morbidity.

One of the major attempts made by the World Health Organization and United Nations International Children Emergency Fund was the introduction of Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative(BFHI), with the aim of sensitizing nursing mothers on the need to adopt the EBF method. BFHI recommended that infants be fed with just breast for 6months; thereafter continue with breast milk and other foods. A study revealed that this campaign was not fully achieved as children between ages 1-5 who are exclusively breastfed dropped from 18% in 2003 to 12% in 2008 and 12% in 2010 and returned to 18% in 2010; consequently increasing the rate of child mortality (NPC and ICF macro, 2008). It was still discovered in this study that the number of people who are enlightened about EBF in the urban areas of Nigeria is higher than those in the rural areas and this poses a threat on the importance of EBF (NPC and ICF Macro, 2009). From the foregoing, this draws to the mind that the media has a serious role to play in enlightening nursing mothers on the benefits of EBF.

The media can achieve this by placing programmes and adverts on the radio, television, newspapers, bulletins, posters, etc about EBF in other to register the message on the minds of nursing mothers. They could move a step further by visiting hospitals and antenatal homes to enlighten nursing mothers and even prospective mothers on the need to adopt EBF.

However, despite the campaign carried out so far by the media, there still seems to be a gap of communication among nursing mothers in the rural parts of Nigeria; as they seem to be cut off (Oruamabo, 2004:16). Obviously, most media in Nigeria are located in the urban areas and sometimes their transmission does not get to the people in the rural area, thus, cutting off the rural dwellers. This brings us to the issue of adopting not only the modern modes of communication, but also the traditional modes of communication through verbal and non-verbal forms of communication as long as it is accepted and understood by the people(Ndolo, 1998:13).

This study is bent on exhuming how effective the media can be in enlightening nursing mothers on the benefits of EBF irrespective of their location.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Overtime, we have had cases of the people who reside in the rural parts of the country being relegated. They are relegated even down to the dissemination of information. It could be as a result of the language used in passing in the message or the channel of disseminating the information. Also, due to the poor state of infrastructure in the rural parts of the country, many media houses will not like to set up their stations there.

Another problem that can affect the media in playing its role is the problem of ‘media ownership’. Media owned by the government hardly promote such developmental campaigns like that of breast feeding; they would rather prefer to promote their political activities.

Also, Nigerians by nature are conservative people. They do not easily accept to change. Even while those programmes on breast feeding are ongoing, some nursing mothers find it difficult to accept to this method. They believe that their fore parents never practiced such and so why should they.

These are some of the problems that will be tackled in the course of carrying out this study.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The main objective of this study is to examine the role of mass media in enlightening nursing mothers on the benefits of exclusive breast feeding (EBF).

Specifically, the study aims:

  1. To examine the influence of media campaigns on exclusive breast-feeding.
  2. To analyze the perception of women regarding the media campaigns in the various media.
  3. To identify the various constraints and challenges the women have in using the various media for exclusive breast-feeding campaigns.
  4. To make recommendations on the subsequent media campaigns on exclusive breastfeeding campaigns and other developmental campaigns.

1.4 Research Questions

In line with the problem, that this study is set to solve, the following research questions have been formulated as a guide to the study.

  1. What is the perception of the women on various media used for the exclusive breastfeeding campaigns?
  2. What is the volume of these campaigns in the various media and the time frame each of these campaigns run to ensure influence and subsequent change in behaviour?
  3. What influence does the exclusive breast feeding campaigns have on women?
  4. What are the various constraints or challenges the women have in their use of the media use on the exclusive breast-feeding campaign?

1.5 Significance of the Study / Justification of the Study

This study is meant to inform, educate and enlighten the general public, especially nursing mothers, media practitioners and the government on the role the media plays in enlightening the public.

For the sake of this study, this study is bent on being a reminder to the mass media on their role in educating nursing mothers on the benefits of adopting EBF. It is meant to draw to the minds of media practitioners that for effective dissemination of development messages, there is need for media mix.

This study is meant to inform the government that they can sponsor messages on the various forms of the mass media in other to ensure effective communication on the benefits of EBF.

This study will be of immense benefit to other researchers who intend to know more on this topic and can also be used by non-researchers to build more on their work. This study contributes to knowledge and could serve as a guide for other work or study.

1.6 Scope / Limitations of the Study

Scope of the Study

This study is broad, since it is studying the role of the mass media in enlightening nursing mothers on the benefits of EBF in Nigeria. This study focuses on women in Abia state.

Limitations of Study
1. Financial constraint

Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).

2. Time constraint

The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.

1.7 Definition of Terms


This is the function assumed or part played by a person or thing in a particular situation.

Mass Media:

It means technology that is intended to reach a mass audience. It is the primary means of communication used to reach the vast majority of the general public. The most common platforms for mass media are newspapers, magazines, radio, television, and the Internet. The general public typically relies on the mass media to provide information regarding political issues, social issues, entertainment, and news in pop culture.


To give (someone) greater knowledge and understanding about a subject or situation.

EBF (Exclusive Breastfeeding):

This means that the infant receives only breast milk. No other liquids or solids are given – not even water – with the exception of oral rehydration solution, or drops/syrups of vitamins, minerals or medicines.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations

5.1 Summary

The study analyzed the role of mass media in enlightening nursing mothers on the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) in Nigeria. The mass media on daily basis air many campaigns whose main objectives are to change or to influence the behaviour of members of the society towards certain developmental goals. It is believed that the media arguably are very effective in influencing the behaviour of people towards particular life styles through their messages and campaigns, and thus can be an effective tool in supporting and sustaining development.
It is important that these media messages and campaigns are packaged and delivered in such way that they would meet the targets and yield the desired goals of those who designed them especially where they concern health and quality health care. One of such campaigns is the exclusive breast-feeding benefits, which are enormous and would adequately enhance the lives of women and children. However it is feared that given so many factors, these campaigns and messages might not be effective and would not meet the purpose for which they were designed which is to influence positively the disposition of the women towards exclusive breast-feeding. Hence the need to ensure that the campaigns achieve the desired results.

Following the above, this study sought to examine the perception of women regarding the media used for the campaigns, to check the influence of the campaigns on the behaviour of the women regarding exclusive breast-feeding and the various constraints and challenges they have, using the various media where the campaigns run. The study discussed the essence of packaging these mass media to ensure its effectiveness by ensuring that the people who are the target are well researched, and the content, timing and the eventual packaging are all well planned and programmed to suit the target.

The study is significant because it will enhance the effectiveness of mass media. It will help campaign designers to use the right medium for the right target audience. The study would be useful to media practitioners because it will provide information on how to effectively mix the various communication media available for the people. These include the modern mass media and the traditional communication systems in the disseminations of information and development communication messages especially to those in the rural areas, thus increasing the desired behaviourial change geared towards development because the campaigns will be effective. Most importantly, it examined and evaluated the actual influence of these campaigns on going in the state and thus provides information on the current results regarding exclusive breast-feeding campaign.

A suitable theoretical framework was used in order to give the study a sound foundation, the innovation diffusion theory was used for this study. This theory explains how a new innovation, object or practice is strategically diffused to the target audience is the way that they pay attention, understand, internalize and adopt the new idea, practice or use the innovation. Relevant literatures were reviewed, evaluating the opinion of other scholars who have discussed the essentials of mass media and its relevance in developmental communication.

Survey research design was used, using the structured questionnaire instrument in collecting the relevant data. A sample size of 300 was selected from the population size using the purposively and accidental sampling techniques. The data collected were analyzed in chapter four and the findings discussed alongside the research questions.
The major findings of the study showed that the most effective channel through which the people receive information on exclusive breast-feeding is the interpersonal communication via the health centers. The ability to ask questions and easily understand the messages of the campaigns are what appeals most to the target about the channels through they access information on exclusive breast-feeding indicated thus.

It was found that the people do not depend wholly on the media in order to respond to certain information that demand actions from them but wait to hear from leaders, friends and others before responding to the information. Again it was shown from the study that the campaigns on exclusive breast-feeding in the media are not adequate and thus may not be effective in bringing about the behaviourial change that is desired.

Finally, the study indicated that majority of the women who have been exposed to exclusive breast-feeding campaigns were not affected by them as their predisposition and perception about exclusive breast feeding has not been affected.

5.2 Conclusion

The results obtained from this study of the three villages each from the three senatorial districts in Abia State. The broadcast media are more effective and would have more impact on women than the print media. The interpersonal channels which is the mode of communication during the antenatal clinic session and interactions, amongst friends, and in the market place are the most effective mode of communication to reach the women, thus in the packaging these campaigns, these designers must ensure that interpersonal communication is used.

The study shows that the mass media campaigns on exclusive breast-feeding do not run in adequate volumes and thus are not able to effect positive behaviourial change on the women doing exclusive breast-feeding for their children. The predominant opinion among the respondents is that they do not get information very often on exclusive breast-feeding. Those who live in the more rural areas such as Ntigha and Amuvie- Agbawu do not receive information as much as those who are living in the more urban area of Ahiaeke- Ibeku, Umuahia. Thus the information that is available on exclusive breast-feeding are designed and concentrated more on the urban than the rural area. The study also shows that the perception of the women towards the media used for the campaigns do not have strong influence over the women. The data shows that although most of the women have heard about the campaigns through the media, they still rely on the opinion leaders, friends and others before they respond to the information they get from the media either positively or negatively depending on the opinion of those whose opinions they have sought. Moreover, the information the women get on exclusive breast-feeding does not affect the majority of them towards positively changing their perception about exclusively breast-feeding their children.

Even though they think it is a good practice, they still reserve their predisposition toward exclusive breast-feeding.
The study also indicates that the women have challenges using the media they prefer for exclusive breast-feeding. These challenges range from lack of electric power supply to high cost of buying the appliances and others such as the print media. These challenges affect to what extent the women will use the media and the attendant effects of developmental campaigns which ought change their behaviour and mobilize the people towards achieving the said goals.

5.3 Recommendations

Having drawn the above conclusions, based on the major findings of the study, the researcher offers following recommendations in the hope that these will help the government, development programme intervention designers, media practitioners, programme designers and other stakeholders to take steps in ensuring that mass media are strategically planned and designed to suit the people for whom it is designed.

  1. It is important that the people for whom the campaign will be designed will be researched into by those whose job it would be to design the campaigns. This is because a thorough research into the people will give the developers the necessary information that will help to design campaigns that will be effective. The research will also reveal the perception of the people towards the particular issues that needs a behaviourial change and thus provide a veritable basis from where the campaign can be started rather than throwing darts in the dark or emphasizing aspects of the issues which do not emphasis.
  2. The campaign designers should adopt communication approaches and media theories which will most suitably work for the particular target audience. These will be most effective if the campaign is well-planned and adequate time given from the time of the design of the campaign to the time it is placed in the media to ensure that the people are affected by the messages. This is essential, given the subtle nature of mass media and how they affect the target. Theories such as the innovation diffusion theory indicates that ample time must be devoted between the time the people begin to get exposed to the message and when they eventually accept and adopt the message or innovation being sold to them. One such communication approach is integrated communication model approach
  3. It is very essential that mass media should be reviewed from time to time as long as the need to place such campaigns in the media still exists. The need exist until the particular campaign has become a social norm. Reviewing the campaigns will enable the designers to measure the effects of the campaigns on the targets. It will expose areas where the campaign designers will need to enhance and areas to begin to remove from the campaigns because the targets do not require motivation or mobilization, information or persuasion in those aspects. Reviewing these campaigns especially on issues pertaining to development and health can be cost effective and save cost which can be channeled into purposive ventures.
  4. There should to be more campaigns on exclusive breast-feeding which would aggressively persuade and motivate women to do it. The broadcast media must be used to collaborate the counseling, teachings and publicity that the hospitals, and health centers are giving. Adopting subtle strategies such dramas, songs and group grooming session would over a period of time will the subconscious of these women and cause them to adopt these media messages rather than the “once upon a time” approach that has been the way these campaigns are placed in the media. Posters and banners must also be used to reach corners on the streets and high ways to ensure that the information about the benefits of exclusive breast feeding is readily available to the entire society.

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