Globally, the maternal mortality ratio has declined by over one-third in the past 20 years, indicating strong progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 3 to reduce preventable maternal and infant deaths. Provision of antenatal care for all women and babies is proven to be a protective factor against maternal and infant death globally, however many women do not access quality care before, during, and after childbirth due to economic and relational barriers.
Knowledge of the importance of antenatal care by both parents has been proven to lead to improved maternal health outcomes. However, male involvement in antenatal care, including discussing pregnancy concerns and accompaniment to clinic visits remains low in Tanzania. In the recently published study, Tanzanian men’s engagement in household chores is associated with improved antenatal care seeking and maternal health, RTI researchers sought to understand factors that facilitate the involvement of male partners in antenatal care, and the associations between involvement and maternal and infant health outcomes.
Consistent with studies conducted in other countries, male partners who were older, had higher levels of completed education, and who were active in making healthcare decisions within the family were more likely be involved in assisting with household chores. Further, male assistance with household chores was found to be associated with improved eating habits for their pregnant partners, as well as increased male involvement in childrens’ play.
The findings of this study highlight the importance of men’s education in improving maternal health outcomes. Healthcare providers should make more concerted efforts to involve men in all stages of antenatal care. Additionally, findings affirm the positive impact of male involvement in home making and managing tasks equalizing gender roles as well.
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