Knowledge of fathers about maternal and newborn health is very low in rural Ethiopia

knowledge fathers ethiopia

A survey of 824 men in a mostly rural region of Northwest Ethiopia has found a lack of basic knowledge about danger signs in the perinatal period and how to prepare for a birth. The researcher recommends community based communication and campaigning to inform men better as a means to reduce maternal mortality.

Only 49% of the men could identify one danger sign during pregnancy – they named high fever most frequently, then abdominal pain, then vaginal bleeding. Fewer, 33%, could name a danger sign during labour – they identified vaginal bleeding and prolonger labour. Even fewer, 26% could name a danger sign after the birth – vaginal bleeding was the danger sign most referred to.

Out of the six birth preparation steps, only 11% knew three or more. 31% did not know any and 44% knew just one.

  • 38% had organised a birth kit.
  • 27% had saved money
  • 11% had identified transport
  • 8% had identified a skilled birth attendant
  • 3% had identified where to go in an emergency
  • 4% had identified a blood donor in advance

Men who had a college education, who were married and/or who lived in urban areas were more likely to have more knowledge.

In this mostly rural region of Ethiopia, only 41% of the men had accompanied their spouses to antenatal care, only 24% of births had taken place in health facilities and only 20% of families had used postnatal care.


Mersha AG (2018), Male involvement in the maternal health care system: Implication toward decreasing the high burden of mortality, BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth

Photo: UNICEF Ethiopia. Creative Commons.