The involvement of men in maternal health care: cross-sectional, pilot case studies from Maligita and Kibibi, Uganda
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Background: The International Conference on Population Development held in Cairo in 1994 identified the importance of male involvement in reproductive health programs. Since then, there has been an increase in reproductive health initiatives that target both men and women in an attempt to fulfill the 5th MilleniumDevelopment Goal. Yet, while the benefits of male involvement have been acknowledged, there continues to be a challenge in creating a space for and engaging men in maternal health. This is problematic due to the role of men as the head of the household in many countries, especially developing countries, which suffer from higher rates of maternal mortality. Furthermore, men are important as partners, fathers and health care professionals and as such it is important to involve and engage with men in maternal health education, and antenatal care.Methods: The purpose of this study undertaken in two rural villages in southeastern Uganda, was twofold: firstly to understand men’s current participation in antenatal, pregnancy care and childbirth and secondly to gain insight into both men and women’s attitudes toward increased male involvement. Focus group discussions and semi-structured questionnaires were used to collect information from 35 men and women. The women were either pregnant or had been involved in a birth experience in the past 3 years and the men had wives who were pregnant or had given birth recently.Results: Men interviewed in the two villages believed that issues related to pregnancy and childbirth were the domain of women. Involvement tended to be confined (to removed) strictly to traditional gender roles, with men’s main responsibility being provision of funds. The women, on the other hand, were interested in receiving more support from their husband through planning, attendance to antenatal care and physical presence in the vicinity of where the birth was taking place.Conclusion: This cross-sectional study has highlighted the space for increased male involvement and participation in maternal health, proposed recommendations and the need for community health education directed at men that engages them in this important area.
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