An assessment of male participation in maternal health care as a strategy to contribute to the deduction of maternal mortality rate in Ugenya Sub-County
The Government of Kenya has shown commitment in delivering health facilities to the doorsteps of common people through, among others, innovative approaches such as Kenya’s First Lady-led Beyond Zero Campaign; free maternity services; devolving of health services; and facilitating the joint communiqué by 15 Governors whose counties were found to have the highest burden of maternal mortality rate. Despite this commitment, the high rate of maternal deaths in Kenya remains a concern. Cairo’s 1994 International Conference on Population and Development recommended that special efforts should be made to emphasize men’s shared responsibility in maternal health, among other areas. The Conference’s findings increased interest in male involvement in maternal health initiatives. It is therefore necessary to establish whether this recommendation is being implemented to contribute to the improvement of the formula for tackling the high maternal mortality rate globally, and what factors are influencing such adoption. This study covered Ugenya Sub-County, in Siaya County. The study observed that strategies to tackle the large number of maternal deaths in the Siaya County Health Policy, as well as in the Siaya County Integrated Development Plan did not include male participation in maternal health care. This study aimed to examine male participation in maternal health care as a strategy to contribute to the reduction of maternal mortality rate in Ugenya Sub-County. Specific objectives were to establish the effects of socio-economic; health facility; cultural; and perceptions/attitudes factors on male participation in maternal health care. The study adopted a descriptive cross-sectional research design. The population of interest included 48,105 households in Ugenya Sub-County’s four wards, West Ugenya; Ukwala; North Ugenya; and East Ugenya. A sample of 150 respondents from the population was selected, and the study used a self-administered questionnaire using face-to-face method. Quantitative data collected was analyzed through descriptive statistics using SPSS, and Qualitative data analyzed using content analysis. The study established that male respondents were aware of most pregnancy complications, though this awareness was from information shared within the community after death had occurred. The respondents’ level of knowledge on the importance and benefits of antenatal care, including the World Health Organization recommended number of visits for antenatal care, and importance of birth spacing was low. Most respondents cited Malaria as the highest cause of maternal deaths in the sub-county. The study found that pregnancy support was regarded as a female role; and it was a taboo for male to go into delivery rooms or labour wards. Negative attitude by healthcare workers and the community towards men who accompanied their partners to the clinics was found to impede male participation in maternal health care. Health care facilities were found to be not easily accessible, operating hours not conducive for men, and male friendly services and waiting areas lacking. Male participation was found to be generally low, and non-participation was not intentional, but influenced by these factors. The study recommends further studies in other Kenyan counties to establish the level of male participation, and what influences said participation. Also recommended for future research is whether male participation reduces maternal mortality rates. The findings of this study aim to contribute to the enhancement of health policies and strategies employed in tackling maternal deaths, and maternal health care. There is a need to undertake wider community sensitization on the importance of supporting men participating in their partners’ maternity care; addressing infrastructural health service issues; and improving comprehensive plans to overcome informational barriers by increasing men’s knowledge and awareness on the importance of their participation. This will entail planning and budgeting for such activities. Human Resources for Health also need to be looked into as this may influence health workers’ attitude toward their work and subsequently how they handle clients.