The Involvement Of Men In Antenatal Care

The Director General for Reproductive Health in the National Ministry of Health, Dr. Alex Dimiti in an exclusive interview revealed that only a few husbands escort their spouses to antenatal care facilities in the country.

The Involvement Of Men In Antenatal Care
Mothers at Rijong Health Clinic in Terekeka State [FIle Photo]

By Jok P Mayom

JUBA, 28 July 2016 [Gurtong]: While at Juba Teaching Hospital between 10:00 am to 11: 30 am to observe how many men come along with their partners, out of the 10 pregnant women who visited the facility and queued to fill in the light green antenatal cards, only 3 were accompanied by their husbands.

The registrar at the hospital also said “Maybe in a day, only eight or ten show up at the centre with their wives. Most men feel a shamed to escort their wives here” She said.

Asked, what the unaccompanied women say when asked where their husbands are, she said that most reply that their partners complain of the busy schedules at their work places.

Dr. Alex pointed out that the ministry had a policy that put the health of a mother and a child a priority arguing that male involvement in the antenatal care plays a role in empowering women of reproductive ages.

“For us to be sure, there is male involvement, every household needs awareness and information” he said adding that this can be done only if the country has enough trained health personnel.

He noted that lack of information and knowledge of benefits of delivering in health facilities hinder approaches to bring down the high maternal mortality in the country.

“Men think that if a woman is pregnant, it’s her problem. They sit there and watch what will happen to her” said the medic.

However, male involvement in maternal health globally has been recommended as one of the intervention to improve maternal and new-borns health.
Dr. Alex took us through the long history of civil wars in the country saying it has destroyed the health infrastructures making it hard to make effective health policies.

He recounts challenges facing the implementation of policies leading to lack of proper trained health professionals in the country.

Dr.Alex noted that after the 2005 comprehensive peace agreement the ministry of health had only 4, 600 health workers and village midwives. Of those, only eight (8) were qualified midwives.

South Sudan maternal mortality stands at 2,054 per 100,000 live births making the country ranked the worse in the world.

Nhial Daniel, a medical student in his final year at the University of Juba supported the policy of husbands accompanying their wives for the antenatal care visits.

“Men accompanying their wives or spouse to antenatal care facilities have benefits. They do disease screening together, making them know and manage diseases earlier” he said.

He said male involvement in Antenatal care has multiple benefits including for HIV prevention and treatment adding that the men will also understand the complications of pregnancy which will make them respond appropriately when they arise.

Daniel further said that by moving to the ANC with their wives, men can encourage their wives who were likely to forget and skip their schedule visits.

“Husbands accompanying their wives could understand the problems associated with pregnancy of which the male partner has a role to play in the management. It assists both partners in the proper understanding of child spacing” he said.

Experts also say it is important as sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like syphilis, gonorrhoea, Human Immune Virus (HIV), among others could potentially be screened for earlier detection and management by both partners when they visit the hospital.

“If men are involved, then the couple can be tested for HIV and other STI’s – this also ensures the health of the baby. With male companion, a woman feels supported and there will be better care for the family” said Nhial.

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