An evaluation of the communication strategies used by the Mkushi District Community Medical Office to promote male involvement in Ante Natal Care

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Nyirenda, Chileya Alice
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Male involvement in ante natal care has gained considerable attention in the recent past. There has been global acknowledgement that male involvement in reproductive health offers benefits for both women and men. Involving men in reproductive healthcare could help Zambia achieve some major development goals, such as a decreased maternal mortality rate and increased ante natal coverage. Involving men could also help reduce the overall prevalence of HIV and AIDS. This will only be possible if men are involved not just as ante natal clients but also as partners, service providers, policymakers, teachers, and project managers.Untilrecently male involvement in ante natal care in Zambia has been relatively underdeveloped. Despite the availability of the services there is still a low turnout of men attending ante natal clinics with their partners. The promotion of male involvement in ante natal care requires coming up with well-planned communication interventions in order to meet the set objectives. This research was carried out to evaluate communication strategies employed by the Mkushi district community medical office under the Ministry of Community Development, Mother and Child Health in promoting male involvement in ante natal care among health care providers, men and women. This report is based on field work conducted at Chibefwe and Chalata health centres of Mkushi district between October 2013 and January 2014.The research set out to find out what the people especially the men knew about male involvement in ante natal care. The results revealed that the majority thought male involvement in ante natal care was accompanying their partners for ante natal in order to get tested for HIV. The majority of men in this community think male involvement is all about Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT). In reality, this is not the case as male involvement in ante natal care is a package which comprises several components and PMTCT is only a component of the program and not the only essence of the program. The study found out that the major communication strategy used to disseminate information on male involvement is radio. Sensitization programs such as phone-in programs and adverts were conducted on Mkushi Community Radio. Health education sessions were conducted both at the health centre and in the community during outreach. The study recommends the involvement of politicians in sensitization, broadening of ante natal services to weekends to accommodate more men. The study also recommends that refresher courses for the staff on the male involvement be conducted.
Ante Natal Care , Communication-Health Aspects , Ante Natal Care-Beliefs and Practice