A report by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) makes a set of recommendations for how engagement of men in maternal, newborn and child healthcare should be organised. The recommendations follow qualitative research involving 197 participants in two provinces of Mozambique, Nampula and Sofala. The research involved focus groups and interviews.
The recommendations are:
- Use community dialogues (“palestras”) to discuss health issues. These are an opportunity to debunk myths (such as, it is dangerous for the infant if a father is present at a birth), to address gender issues such as violence, and to present the benefits of men getting involved – for their own health, for the health of their child, for the health of the mother and for the father-child relationship. These dialogues should ensure that women retain the right to decide if they want their partner involved in their health.
- Implement couple counselling in health services. As for community dialogues, the choice of whether the man is involved should rest with the woman. (She should be asked in private beforehand).
- Provide longer-term group education (with recurring sessions) organised by community health workers. These sessions can cover gender issues, fatherhood, couple decision-making, child development and maternal, newborn and child health. These sessions should include men/women only discussions (for sensitive issues) and mixed discussions (where women and men hearing each other’s perspectives is important).
- Work with men who support gender equity and who respond well to the engagement services provided. Such men can be community champions.
- End the policy of prioritising women who come to health services with their partners. This is discriminatory.
- Services should invest in privacy in consultation rooms and labour wards, since these present a barrier to involving men.
Header photo: UNIDO. Creative Commons.