On the occasion of the Global Day of Parents on 1 June, ICN is pleased to present a case study on the involvement of men in maternal healthcare services.
In Tanzania, as in many parts of the globe, Involving men in maternal healthcare services can help improve access and use of such services.
In traditional settings, a man’s role in caring for a pregnant partner was minimal. However, in the modern world, men are encouraged to take a more active role in the care of expectant and new mothers.
This is a healthcare goal that Rehema Panga, a District Nursing Officer at Ubungo Municipal Council, is particularly passionate about.
“After graduating from the Aga Khan University with a BScN in 2013, I was transferred to the Mother and Child unit at Mbezi Health Centre,” Ms Panga says. “The unit was facing some challenges at the time. I was able to make changes and turn the situation around. I worked through the community and encouraged more mothers, together with their partners, to come for services. To encourage male involvement, I talked with local government leaders.”
Ms Panga ’s efforts bore fruit and soon Mbezi Health Centre had a record number of men accompanying their partners for mother and child clinic visits.
“I got a big response, and Mbezi Health Centre came to be seen as a centre of excellence for male involvement. We regularly received guests from all over Tanzania, and some from Uganda and Kenya, keen to learn about the initiative I had founded.
“In many Tanzanian households, where the man is the key decision-maker, it is important to ensure he is involved in maternal healthcare. Mothers are more likely to keep all clinic appointments; children get all vaccinations on time; the couple gets family planning education together and the man also gets his health check-ups,” Ms Panga adds.
As a mother-and-child health coordinator in Ubungo Municipal Council, Ms Panga supervises all family health services, including antenatal and postnatal care, family planning services, cervical cancer screening, gender violence cases, child abuse cases, reducing mother-child infections and youth health services.
Ms Panga says: “I ensure that our services are of a high standard, which is a big role to play for the community I serve. I have to identify the challenges we face in service delivery and provide solutions.”
She is working hard to make Ubungo Municipal Council an exemplary region when it comes to reproductive and child healthcare.
“This region had some of the poorest statistics on reproductive and child healthcare in the country. I am implementing initiatives to improve our services and reach more people. This will be my legacy.”