Patrick Njitkho and his wife Caroline Chilenje live with their newborn baby in Samson-Shumba village in northern Malawi.
While Caroline was pregnant, the couple received visits from members of their village safe motherhood committee. Supported by Presbyterian World Service & Development, these committees educate and motivate families about the importance of accessing vital maternal health services.
Patrick remembers “this visit was the first time that I realized it was risky for my wife to deliver at home.”
After that visit, Patrick continued to learn a great deal from the safe motherhood committee and male motivators, including how to ensure Caroline’s pregnancy and labour would go as smoothly as possible.
Because of his experiences during his wife’s pregnancy, Patrick has now begun to act as a male motivator, so he can encourage other men in the same way he was encouraged.
Motivating Their Communities
Male motivators become role models in their communities. Through the maternal health program, male motivators are equipped with knowledge and skills to encourage other men to take an active role in the welfare of their families especially during pregnancy, delivery and in the post natal period.
This is helping create real change in communities across Malawi.
Men are gaining a greater awareness and understanding of the effects of pregnancy and delivery for their partners. Patrick shares how he learned that a woman’s body goes through so much when she’s pregnant, and why it’s essential that she is strong, eats well and doesn’t become anemic.
Along with this understanding, male motivators are also encouraging men to talk about family planning.
In Malawi, culturally, it can be difficult for men to discuss family planning options with health workers, especially female health workers. By sharing their own knowledge and experiences, male motivators are helping to create a safe and open environment for men to learn more. This means husbands and wives are able to talk about family planning and vasectomies, as well as how important it is for a woman to space her pregnancies, and why having fewer children can be better for the health of mothers.
Men are also learning the importance of immediately accessing trained medical care when their pregnant wife feels ill.
Patrick recalls travelling to the health facility early in order to ensure they were there when Caroline went into labour. Patrick’s experience of a happy and healthy delivery just reinforces for him “why men should always be with their wives during pregnancy!”
*PWS&D’s maternal and child health program receives generous funding from the Government of Canada through Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada.