Partner support is crucial in the fight against maternal deaths Featured

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There are cultural practices and traditional beliefs that make it nearly impossible for men to offer support to their pregnant partners in some communities in Ghana, but this is changing due to education.

Culturally, in most parts of the country, the extended family members of either the man or the woman play the role of supporting the expectant mother before, during and after delivery.

Liplime is a community about 10 Kilometres away from Gwollu in the Sissala West District of the Upper West Region, which benefitted from sensitisations under the European Union funded “Improving Maternal Health Delivery through Participatory Governance” (IMPROVE) Project. Most members of Gwollu and Liplime communities patronize the health facility at Gwollu. The people of Liplime are mainly farmers who cultivate cotton, maize and groundnut.

Abubakari Mumuni is a 28-year-old farmer and a mobile phone repairer who resides in Liplime. According to him, he makes about GHS30 monthly from the repair work and about GHS120 per quarter from his farm.

Mumuni is married and has twins who are about 2 years old. He recounted that he always assists his wife by carrying her on his motorbike (even when she was pregnant) to the health facility. Mumuni said, “Since she is pregnant, anything can happen to her if she goes alone.”

According to him, his behaviour was influenced by sensitisations on maternal health issues, especially on the importance of antenatal and the role of the men during pregnancy in the community. The education has reinforced their attitude to assist their wives. “I used to help my wife, but it was only when I am persuaded. But after the sensitisation, my support for her has increased. I assist her whenever I observe that she needs help. I carry the children when my wife is cooking. These days, I often bath my children, dress them up and send them to school,” Mumuni revealed.

The maternal health sensitisation formed part of activities being implemented under the “Improving Maternal Health Service Delivery through Participatory Governance (IMPROVE)” Project.

The project has recorded increased male support to their wives before and during pregnancy, and also after delivery across the intervention areas–– a case in point is that of Abubakari Mumuni. This is a positive shift in gender roles which will ultimately help to achieve better maternal health.

With funding support from the European Union and Christian Aid, the IMPROVE project being implemented by SEND GHANA in 30 districts across Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions is in collaboration with the Ghana Health Service (GHS).

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