A qualitative study involving 17 pregnant women and 18 expectant fathers in two single-sex focus groups explored what measures were most likely to encourage men to attend antenatal clinics. The participants were from Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Three key actions were commended.
- Specific invitation letters to men from the doctor, to convey authority.
- Male- and couple-friendly clinics, for example, reduced waiting times (for working fathers), space available for couples to sit together and welcoming staff.
- Peer-to-peer communication in the community, with an opportunity to discuss pregnancy and related issues with other men confidentially.
Participants of the two focus groups, and also other professionals and community members interviewed for the study, identified a number of motivators of and barriers to male attendance.
Motivators of involvement included:
- A feeling of love for the woman and the baby and a sense of responsibility for the pregnancy.
“What encourages me is this love for my wife and the love I have towards this future child I would like to see born without problems. So that’s why I want to follow my wife and accompany her to the maternity for ANC. We want to know everything.”
- Provision of clear and practical information directly to fathers from the clinic.
- A serious health problem necessitating urgent attention.
- A desire to be tested for HIV.
Barriers to involvement included:
- Work commitments.
- Unwelcoming clinics – unfriendly staff, lack of facilities, exclusion of men from consultations.
- Old cultural norms defining babies as an exclusively female responsibility.
- Avoidance of HIV testing
Participants were mostly doubtful about any kind of financial incentive for men to attend, including reimbursement of travel expenses. There were some doubts also about fast tracking couples compared to women without a partner, lest it cause unfairness.
Gill MM, Ditekemena J, Loando A, IIunga V, Temmerman M & Fwamba F (2017), “The co-authors of pregnancy”: leveraging men’s sense of responsibility and other factors for male involvement in antenatal services in Kinshasa, DRC, BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 17
Photo: Julien Harneis. Creative Commons.