Male Participation in Maternal Health Study
Investigators : Dr Linda Kalilani-Phiri, Mrs Effie Chipeta, Andrew Ngwira, Wanangwa Chimwaza
Funding Organisation : Finnish Government
In most cultures men have a focal role on family decision making regarding maternal and reproductive health care and
they often dominate in decision making in the society at large. Women's ability to seek health care is determined by the
household head, usually the husband. However, despite this, the extent of men's roles is not reflected in the amount of
research carried out as the focus has mainly been on women . In addition, most of the studies on male involvement have not
taken into consideration the cultural and socio norms that affect men's involvement in maternal health issues.
Although Malawi has prioritized the provision of quality maternal health care services since 1987 through the Safe
Motherhood initiatives, the issue of male involvement has not been adequately addressed. Among the insufficiently addressed
in the provision of maternal health services in Malawi is also the lack of programs targeting males.
Most of the current maternal health services focus on maternal and child health and, as a consequence,
they are designed and implemented by keeping women in mind, excluding men who often make reproductive health decisions.
Failing to provide maternal and reproductive health information and services for men not only has an adverse impact on
the health of the male population, but can also detract from women's reproductive health. Men who are educated about
maternal health issues are more likely to support their partners in decisions during pregnancy and childbirth .
They are also better equipped to make health-seeking decisions, such as ensuring that their partner receives prompt
emergency obstetric care when required. There is therefore a need to conduct an in-depth assessment of male participation
in maternal health in order to identify ways in which improved male participation in maternal health can improve women's and
This study aimed at exploring male perceptions and participation in maternal and reproductive health care in a specific cultural and socioeconomic context in Mangochi district. Specifically the study sought:
1. To obtain information on male experiences and perceptions of their roles in maternal health care.
2. To obtain information on socio-cultural norms and beliefs that influence male participation in maternal health issues
3. To assess male perceptions on the quality of maternal health care services
4. To evaluate the male involvement strategies in the ongoing maternal reproductive health programs in the study sites