A survey of 210 couples who had just had a baby in Addis Ababa has found correlations between the extent that the fathers were involved during the pregnancy and the degree to which the mothers used health services.
- Women whose partners asked about what happened at antenatal clinic visits and who accompanied their partner to the clinic were more likely to attend clinics.
- Women whose partners asked about what happened at antenatal clinic visits were more likely to attend the clinic during the first trimester.
- Women whose partners reminded them about follow-up actions after clinic visits and who accompanied them to a clinic were more likely to be HIV tested.
- Women whose partners asked about what happened at antenatal clinics and who reminded them about follow-up actions after clinic visits were more likely to have a skilled birth attendant.
The researchers surmise that involvement by the men, especially attending the antenatal clinic, leads to knowledge and awareness, which in turn leads to men providing more support. They recommend better strategies on the part of health services to reach out to partners.
Women’s use of health facilities was measured in six ways:
- At least one antenatal clinic visit. (95% of the women had.)
- Have a skilled birth attendant. (86%)
- Delivered in a healthcare facility. (78%)
- First appointment during the first trimester. (49%)
- Four or more antenatal clinic visits. (35%)
- HIV tested.
Partner involvement was measured in 8 ways:
- Covered medical and transport costs. (82% had)
- Asked about what happened at antenatal clinics. (61%)
- Reminded partner about follow-up actions after clinic visits. (57%)
- Accompanied partner to one or more clinic visits. (51%)
- Initiated a discussion about pregnancy and health with their partner. (35%)
- Requested partner to do a HIV test. (34%)
- Did a HIV test themselves. (20%)
- Physically entered the clinic room with their partner. (12%)
The women whose partners who confirmed more of these activities were more likely to use health facilities according to five of the six measures (the exception being attending a clinic four or more times).
Ethiopia has made great progress in recent years in maternal health, but maternal mortality remains high (412 per 100,000 births) and use of healthcare facilities is still too low.
Mohammed BH, Johnston JM, Vackova D, Hassen SM & Yi H (2019), The role of male partner in utilization of maternal health care services in Ethiopia: a community-based couple study, BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 19
Photo: UNICEF. Creative Commons.