Perceptions and experiences of young pregnant women aged 15-19 years on male involvment at antenatal clinics of Mwense District, Luapula, Zambia
Mwape, Kapenda Wilson
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Male involvement in antenatal care clinic is defined as the male partners’ active participation in attending antenatal services. Men serve as gatekeepers to women’s access to reproductive health services. Male participation in antenatal care and HIV testing helps to decrease infant HIV infection and increases HIV free survival in children. However, male involvement has been low in Zambia, especially among partners of young pregnant women. The study aim was to determine the perceptions and experiences of young pregnant women on male involvement at antenatal care clinics and to assess their acceptability of male involvement at ANC. The study was conducted in Mwense District of Luapula province. Phenomenological design and purposive sampling were used. Three focus group discussions and thirty in-depth interviews were conducted. Thematic analysis was used. Analysis of data was done manually. Themes were deductively coded from the interview guides, theoretic framework and objectives of the study. Other themes were processed inductively from the data transcriptions. Triangulation involved assessing the data for consistency and potential variations of findings. Generally, young pregnant women perceived male involvement at antenatal care clinics as a good programme. Male involvement was highly acceptable but with low utilization. It was perceived to help couples prepare for delivery, increase love and care, and learn more about HIV. Male involvement was considered helpful for a healthy pregnancy and safe delivery. The participants felt the need for programme continuity. Male-friendly antenatal care services should be developed. The young women’s experiences of male involvement were mixed, ranging from a better and quick service if accompanied, to being scolded and delay in being attended to if they were not accompanied by a partner. Male involvement left young pregnant women with both negative and positive experiences. The negative experiences made them to have bad perceptions while positive experiences helped the young pregnant women appreciate the programme as being to their benefit hence the desire to have it continue. Community-based programs that would promote male involvement and minimise associated stigma need to be initiated. Male targeted programmes that encourage men to attend antenatal care clinics should be considered. Future studies on views of men with young pregnant partners and their perception on male involvement are recommended. This would aid formulation of targeted interventions for the programme.
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