Father’s involvement to reduce maternal and child mortality
An interesting article by Global Health Africa illustrated the effect that Father’s can have on reducing maternal and child mortality. The example given here was the extremely high rates in Nigeria, “the second largest contributor to the under-five and maternal mortality rate in the world.” Although evidence is scarce, research postulates that Father’s can in fact influence these mortality rates.
I consistently advocate that in order to bring about social change, all stakeholders must be involved. This is exactly that!
In patriarchal societies, this influence can be exponentially beneficial. Those in society that have more power and are the decision makers can absolutely help to reduce these mortality rates.
What we in the western world see as trivial, is a stretch for those in resource limited settings. Access to a high quality of health care and medications, breastfeeding practices and even antenatal and postnatal care. These are key factors that could help to reduce mortality rates.
We aspire to have paternal input to begin from the preconception period and not just postpartum. This could have a great effect on pregnancy and birth outcomes. From psychological support to the mother to physical support in daily life.
In many settings, once a woman is pregnant it seldom changes her everyday working life, so such concepts of maternity leave are a myth! It is in these settings that we see the levels of maternal and child mortality to be too high.
In some settings male services are offered by health workers to help to educate the fathers, and this could begin at an adolescent age. The family approach to pregnancy and child birth could also increase the impact of the intervention, whereby all stakeholders are engaged. What we fail to recognise is the failure of some interventions could be dependent on the failure of the involvement of men. We focus on women as that is where the burden of disease or morbidity may be, however we have failed to realise without involving all members of society the uptake of the intervention may be seriously hindered.
There is not long left till the MDGs were sought to be achieved, and MDG4 and MDG 5 are leaving much to be deserved to achieve these targets. I strongly believe to make a real impact and to reduce maternal and child mortality, the engagement and involvement of men is vital.
Don’t forget the men.