Male involvement: the missing dimension in promoting child spacing
Experience of male involvement in child spacing is very scarce in this part of Africa. In Malawi even information on views of men about child spacing and their concerns is scanty. But traditionally, the concept of involving men is not new in Malawi. Men were in the past involved in child spacing and in fact this formed the foundation of traditional child spacing practices. The present child spacing programme is a component of Maternal and Child Health Programme which targets women mostly and the fact that most modem contraceptive are female-oriented and that most service providers are women, has further distanced men's participation, And yet the local realities are that men remain the chief decision makers in most homes and that a thing like child spacing requires men's endorsement or at least support. Many misconceptions and rumours have resulted in some men discouraging their wives from starting child spacing. A local health care NCO, Banja La Mtsogolo, has been experimenting with an Information, Education and Motivation programme targeted at men. The experiences have been quite revealing of the men's apparent interest in the subject and their lack of adequate accurate information. It seems the concept of involving men In child spacing could be revitalised as a strategy to help harmonise the situation and enhance better understanding in the promotion of modern child spacing methods. It is also hoped that by involving men, not only will more women be allowed access to contraceptives, but that this could pave the way for ready acceptance of male contraceptive methods. Greater sensitivity to information needs for men, the training of male medical staff in child spacing and orienting them to the concept could to such staff acting as counsellors for fellow men beside their other responsibilities. There is great scope in the country for involving men in child spacing and the number of agencies interested to adopt this model seems to confirm this.