Photo by Pathfinder International

In 1965, Pathfinder helped establish the Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria and provided the first grant in family planning to the Nigerian Ministry of Health for pilot work in northern communities.

Photo by Farouk Jega

Then in 1988, USAID selected Pathfinder to manage the public-sector component of what was then Africa’s largest family planning and reproductive health program.

Photo by Farouk Jega

Based in Nigeria, this watershed program developed resources—a national family planning management information system, unique training curricula, and standards of practice—for trainers, nongovernmental organizations, and health care providers.

Photo by Mark Tuschman

Today Pathfinder builds off of these experiences to aid the Nigerian government—to save mothers’ lives. Nigeria contributes to approximately 10% of worldwide maternal mortality, mostly due to uncontrolled postpartum hemorrhage and eclampsia.

Photo by Akintunde Akinyele

Pathfinder strengthens health systems and mobilizes communities, where approximately two out of three births occur at home. “We educate women on birth preparedness,” said Dr. Farouk Jega, Pathfinder’s Nigeria Country Representative.

Photo by Akintunde Akinyele

“That includes making sure they know the danger signs of pregnancy and have emergency plans in place, like determining who will donate blood or who has agreed to take them to the hospital.”

Photo by Mark Tuschman

It is all part of Pathfinder’s Continuum of Care. We work to ensure that a woman can access quality, life-saving health services at any point, from home to the hospital.

Pathfinder International works in Nigeria on a range of health issues—from developing local capacity to deliver and manage high quality reproductive health programs to addressing maternal and child health—with special focus on PMTCT and safe motherhood.


With a rapidly rising population of over 167 million, Nigeria remains in dire need of health systems reform and increased access to health care to meet the needs of its increasing population. Despite considerable gains in the past decade, Nigeria's reproductive health indicators are still very poor. Country-wide, the total fertility rate is 5.7 children per mother, with a contraceptive prevalence rate of less than 10 percent. Furthermore, these statistics mask wide regional variations—for example, the total fertility rate in the northwestern region is as high as 7.3, with a contraceptive prevalence rate of 3 percent. Additionally, HIV and AIDS remain grave problems for Nigeria. In 2011, it was estimated that 3.4 million Nigerians were living with the virus, the second highest national HIV burden in the world.

Much of Pathfinder's work today involves developing local institutional capacity to deliver and manage high-quality programs addressing reproductive health, family planning, maternal and child health, and HIV and AIDS. By developing institutional capacity, Pathfinder works to empower local communities in Nigeria to advocate for quality services. Well known throughout the country for its management of complex, multi-site projects, Pathfinder has strengthened the technical and training capacity of local partners and institutions to build sustainable, cost-effective, and culturally appropriate interventions.

Only 15 percent of married women (between 15-49 years of age) use contraception of any kind.

Evidence for Decision-Making

A key aspect of Pathfinder's approach to systems' strengthening is collecting data that enables public, private, and community partners to make informed health-related decisions. In Nigeria, examples of the kinds of data we collect range from the "number of pregnant women with unknown HIV status who received HIV counseling and testing" and the "number of women given appropriate uterotonic in correct dose within 1 minute of delivery of baby" to the "number of monitoring and 'quality of care' visits to facilities by quality improvement teams." Some illustrative data from Pathfinder's projects in Nigeria include:

  • 130,483 women delivered or sought postpartum services at project facilities
  • 1,185 women were treated for postpartum hemorrhage using the non-pneumatic anti-shock garment (NASG) that Pathfinder introduced
  • 28,358 individuals received care and treatment for HIV after receiving their HIV test results

Building Capacity, Strengthening Systems

Over the past three years, Pathfinder has built the organizational, institutional, and technical capacity of more than 50 local organizations that are implementing reproductive health, family planning, maternal and newborn care, and HIV and AIDS programs in Nigeria. Pathfinder's institutional capacity building initiatives strengthen the ability of local partners (including NGOs, public and private sector organizations, and the Ministry of Health) to develop, plan, implement, and monitor quality interventions. Pathfinder has developed trainings in strategic planning, proposal development, resource mobilization, financial and program management, and monitoring and evaluation to ensure that local partners are equipped to provide quality services. Pathfinder encourages and facilitates networking and sharing of experience among its partners, and has fostered exchanges within Nigeria and with organizations in other countries where we work.

For four years, Pathfinder has partnered with Ministry of Health at both the national level and in seven states to revise guidelines and job aides for the prevention and management of postpartum hemorrhage, the most common cause of maternal mortality in Nigeria. This involves the inclusion of two new technologies: active management of third stage of labor and the use of the non-pneumatic anti-shock garment. More than 900 health care providers were trained on these new guidelines across the country. Additionally, Pathfinder worked with the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria to integrate these new guidelines in the pre-service training curriculum of midwives. Pathfinder has also offered technical support to the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs to implement a Maternal Health Project aimed at reducing deaths due to eclampsia and postpartum hemorrhage, by training and mentoring master trainers on how to use the non-pneumatic anti-shock garment. Pathfinder has also been in the forefront of advocating the use and availability of misoprostol for the prevention and management of postpartum hemorrhage at the community level.


In Nigeria, contraceptive use is less than 10 percent. Your gift of $25 or $50 helps us ensure that people in Nigeria have better access to family planning as well as quality sexual and reproductive healthcare.

Our Projects

Building Blocks for FP2020 in Pakistan and Nigeria

Building Blocks for FP2020 in Pakistan and Nigeria

Contraception & Family Planning

Building Blocks for FP2020 is designed to support and advance family planning in Nigeria and Pakistan, two countries that have made ambitious goals for improving access to reproductive health care in the next decade.

Scaling up Clinical and Community Action to Address Maternal Health in Nigeria

Maternal & Newborn Health

Pathfinder builds on its successful CCA-PPH Plus model to address the two leading causes of maternal mortality: postpartum hemorrhage and pre-eclampsia/eclampsia.

Related Publications

August 2014

Research and Evaluation Working Paper Series

The purpose of the Working Paper Series is to disseminate work in progress by Pathfinder International staff on critical issues of population, reproductive health, and development.

August 2014

Assessment of the Quality of Antenatal Care Services Provided by Health Workers using a Mobile Phone Decision Support Application in Northern Nigeria

A pre/post intervention study assessing the effect of introducing a mobile case management and decision support application for antenatal care in northern Nigeria.

July 2014

m4Change + mCCT: Using Mobile Technology to Support Nigeria's SURE-P Conditional Cash Transfer Program for Maternal and Child Health

This fact sheet covers the use of mobile technology to support a conditional cash transfer program for maternal and child health in Nigeria.

June 2013

The Right to Safe Motherhood for Every Woman, Everywhere

In this edition of Pathways, we share stories from clients served by in our maternal health projects, with a focus on prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and postpartum hemorrhage.

Related News

Pathfinder Staff Heavyhearted After Boarding School Tragedy in Nigeria

Yesterday, Pathfinder was outraged to learn that more than 50 male boarding school students lost their lives in a senseless attack in the Yobe state of Nigeria.

One Step to Saving a Million Lives

Pathfinder's m4Change project contributes to the government of Nigeria's goal to save one million lives in three years using a mobile phone application.

Pathfinder International embarked on a project designed to help Nigeria get to that goal. It began equipping community health extension workers with CommCare, a mobile phone app that collects information needed to determine the kind of antenatal health services provided to mothers.

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