Attendance of male partners to different reproductive health services in Shinyanga District, North western Tanzania
Background: Male involvement in reproductive health (RH) services in Africa has been associated with improved maternal and child health outcomes. The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence and factors affecting male partner attendance to available reproductive health services in Shinyanga district, north-western Tanzania.
Methods: A house to house survey using a structured questionnaire was conducted among randomly selected married men. Additional in-depth interviews were conducted among married men found attending RH services. Factors that motivates the uptake of locally available RH services together with their partners were explored.
Results: A total of 204 men participated in the study, 94.4 % (193/204) of them reported to have ever attended the RH service with their female partners at least once whereas 50.6% (103/204) of them attended at least thrice. Three quarters (154/204) attended HIV counselling and testing (VCT) and 63% (129/204) attended antenatal services (ANC). Reported attendance to sexually transmitted infections (STIs/STDs), prevention of HIV transmission from mother to child (PMTCT), and reproductive health cancer services were all less than 13%. The male partners age group (25-34 years; χ2=9.347, df =3 p-value < 0.001), female partner invitation to HR services (χ2= 29.901, df=1, p-value <0.001) and having less than 2 children (χ2= 6.201, df= 2, p-value < 0.05) were associated with higher RH service attendance. Only 20% (4/20) of married men attended RH because they expected better health outcomes in their presence whilst majority attended because they were summoned or just happen to be at the clinic for other purposes.
Conclusion: The male attendance to RH services together with their female partners’ in rural Shinyanga was mainly focused ANC and VCT. Most of men attended because were verbally invited by their partners. Education on couple communication empowerment among women attending RH clinics could sustainably improve attendance to all RH services.