Low Utilization of Family planning Services Among men in Zambia

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Mushinge, Irene
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Family planning programs have long been recognized for their importance in improving the health of women and children and in reducing population growth rates. However, Zambia like many other African countries has lagged behind other world regions in the adoption and expansion of family planning. Given the critical role that African men play in family decisions, men's support and involvement are essential for family planning to 'become more widespread(Roudi.F and Ashford. L, 1996). This paper has identified factors contributing to low utilisation of family planning among men in Zambia. It discusses findings from male respondents, health workers and participants of the focus group discussion. A total number of 181 men were interviewed on the Copperbelt Province of Zambia. Three Companies having a large men population, such as ZCCM, were conveniently selected for the study. The main market of Kitwe District was also used for the focus group discussion with 10 men. To supplement the findings of the study, a second sample of 27 health workers, fully involved in family planning, was obtained from systematically selected health institutions within the same Province. The overall total sample for the study was therefore 218. The study was conducted from December 1996 to February 1997, with the help of three male nurses in data collection. A self administered questionnaire for health workers and an interview schedule for the men were used as data collection tools. Key findings include:- * men's knowledge about the available male family planning methods is reasonably high except for vasectomy. * A gap however, does exist between Zambian men's knowledge of family planning and their practice. * Men do not seem to accept comfortably the available male methods in terms of their effectiveness. * Accessibility to the male methods is one of the factors contributing to low levels of use of family planning among men. *The family planning clinics are still female oriented with almost nothing in place to attract men. Generally family planning services are being offered through maternal and child health care providers, by passing men's involvement. * Men who use modern family planning methods rely to a greater extent on their wives and the methods. Condom use is high, possibly due to the AIDS epidemic, but vasectomy is almost non existent. * There seems to be some communication between husband and wife, this may increase the utilisation rate of male family planning in future. There is need for policy makers and programme planners to give increased attention to include men in counselling services, and Information Education and Communication (I.E.G.) programmes. Most men hold positions of leadership and influence from the family unit up to the national level.Their involvement in family planning therefore would not only ease the responsibility borne by women in terms of decision-making for family planning matters, but would also accelerate the understanding and practice of family planning in general.
Bith Control(Men)--Zambia , Birth Control Clinics