More evidence has emerged in Uganda of the negative effects of prioritising the care of women in antenatal clinics if they come with their husbands.
The study took place in the very southwestern tip of Uganda. Half of the 38 women involved in the focus groups were from the Batwa community, a community forced from their forest homes and hunter gatherer lifestyle in the early 1990s as a result of conservation efforts in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Heritage site.
Some women explained the benefits of their husbands’ involvement, for example, their husbands’ presence in case there were problems with HIV screening, or their husbands being better informed about pregnancy.
A key barrier to male involvement, as found in other studies, is the working role of men. Another barrier among poorer families is shame about appearing poor. And one woman described the lack of support from an alcoholic husband.
The research article records negative judgements about men by health professionals. One accused men of preventing their wives from going to antenatal clinics. Another blamed men for causing women to be silent in (evidently poorly run) antenatal groups.
The researchers conclude “Our study found that men controlled money and generally did not support their spouses’ needs during pregnancy.” It is not possible, however, to find the evidence for this conclusion in that presented in the study.
The researchers make the point that services need to cater for well for women who have poor support from their husbands.
The study did not include talking with men and did not list this as a study limitation. The researchers did acknowledge that white Canadian interpretations of racial and gender issues in Uganda may be open to misrepresentation.
Wilson M, Patterson K, Nkalubo J, Lwasa S, Namanya D, Twesigomwe S & Anyango J (2019), Assessing the determinants of antenatal care adherence for Indigenous and non-Indigenous women in southwestern Uganda, Midwifery 78
Header photo: Penn State. Creative Commons.