I am very excited to have my husband by my side during this clinic visit,” says Acen Susan who travelled 30 miles by bicycle with her husband, Adiama William, for her first antenatal visit at Soroti Referral Hospital in Northeastern Uganda. “Unlike many women who have come alone, we are served first.”
Although it is normal to find pregnant women alone at the health centre, the midwife at Soroti Hospital, Asio Okwii Ruth, explains that the hospital is encouraging male involvement by rewarding couples who come to the health clinic together by serving them first. The goal of this reward is to underscore the importance of male participation in family healthcare.
This simple action by the health workers is supported by a mass media and community outreach campaign called Stop Malaria in Your Community, whose primary message is that malaria is a pressing health issue and requires a collective response. This campaign is part of the Stop Malaria Project (SMP), a five-year, President’s Malaria Initiative and USAID-funded project, implemented by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Communication Programs (JHU∙CCP).
In the first seven months of the campaign, almost four million adults across the 34 SMP-supported districts in Central, Eastern and Western Uganda were reached with messages about using long lasting insecticide treated nets consistently, attending antenatal care, taking preventive treatment for malaria during pregnancy and seeking timely testing and treatment for malaria for all household members.
Thus far, the campaign has been successful at transmitting preventative malaria messages to men. Explains William: “I bought a mosquito net after that malaria radio campaign and we have received another mosquito net, which means that we shall both be protected from malaria. Better still, the baby will have her own mosquito net.”
Another father in the ANC, Otema Jackson, describes that since he started attending antenatal care clinics with his wife, she has not missed a medical appointment. Furthermore, their marriage is thriving.
“Today, we were about three men in the ANC class, but I felt great,” expressed an energized William. William knows that simply by being involved in his wife’s healthcare, his entire family benefits.
Learn more about the Stop Malaria Project.