A study of 256 men in an inner-city community in Ghana found that, despite knowing about maternal health matters, few attended a maternal health clinic with their wives and partners.
The survey was carried out in the Chorkor area of the capital city, Accra, where fishing is the main industry.
Basic knowledge of maternal health matters was widespread among the men:
- All but one knew the meaning of family planning – 58% regarded it as a way of limiting the number of children and 35% regarded it as a way of increasing birth spacing.
- Antenatal healthcare was associated by the men with safe delivery (49% of men), monitoring the growth of the foetus (25%) and the woman’s health (18%).
- 69% of the men understood that supervised delivery is safer.
Nearly all the men saved money for health costs during pregnancy (99%) and 84% arranged transport.
In contrast, attendance at clinics was found to be very low: only 7% ever accompanied their wives to a family planning clinic and only 18% to at least one antenatal clinic. 44% went to the clinic for the delivery.
The reasons for this low participation were explored and found to be similar to other studies:
- Culture – 64% of the men felt that pregnancy health was solely women’s business.
- Work – 84% of the men said work prevented them attending a family clinic and 23% said it prevented them from attending an antenatal clinic. (Chokor is an impoverished community with very long working hours in fishing.)
- Unwelcoming clinics – long waiting times, poor attitudes on the part of staff, women-only clinics.
The researchers recommend training for staff and innovations in inviting men to clinics.
Atuahene MD, Arde-Acquah S, Atuahene NF, Adjuik M & Ganle JK (2017), Inclusion of men in maternal and safe motherhood services in inner-city communities in Ghana: evidence from a descriptive cross-section survey, BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 17
Photo: The Maternal and Child Survival Program. Creative Commons.