MEN’S uptake of health services in Masvingo is still low, amid calls to scale up programmes to involve men, organisations in the health sector have said.
This came up at a Meaningful Involvement of People Living with HIV (MIPA) meeting in Masvingo last week, where stakeholders in the health sector were advocating for scaling up of activities that involve men.
BY HAZVINEI MWANAKA
Boys to Men Forum Foundation (BOMEF) director, Shepherd Mavhudzi said they had challenges at some workplaces, where they visit to offer health services to men.
“From the surveys that we conducted, we have realised that most men hide behind the fact that they are bread winners so they spend most of their time working. Some organisations are not helpful, as we want to take health services to their workplaces.
“We have also noted that some have multiple partners, so they end up not accompanying their wives to health facilities. In as much as we want to involve all men in health services we are, however, underfunded to carry out our duties,” he said.
Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council (ZNFPC) marketing manager, Herbert Chikosi attributed the low involvement to labour migration.
“Half of our men work in South Africa and generally men’s behaviour on the uptake of health services is still poor.
“Some men complain that when they accompany their wives to seek health services nurses shun them.
“They say they are told to sit at benches while their wives are attended to which makes them bored as they will not be considered,” he said.
Chikosi added that the ministry should consider ways to lure men to take part in sugar and BP testing particularly when they accompany their wives to health facilities.
He, however, said their data was based on statistics from public institutions and does not include those who utilise private institutions.
Provincial HIV focal person from the Health and Child Care ministry, Clemence Sibanda acknowledged that men’s involvement in health services was still low and encouraged health service providers to take advantage of public gatherings that also involved men.
“Usually, at health facilities, men can also be served for example BP testing when they accompany their wives, I think those men, who were not treated well, could just be the result of attitude of some health workers.
“The other challenge that we are having is that we are not getting data from other surgeries,” he said.
Zimbabwe National Network for People Living with HIV (ZNNP+) Masvingo provincial co-ordinator, Morgen Changamire said there is need to scale up male participation programmes.
According to HerZimbabwe the involvement of males in family planning issues was a foolproof intervention in the promotion of safer relationships as partners enhance their communication around parenting and child spacing.
According to a UNAids report during a session in Durban, South Africa, at the 21st International Aids Conference, participants shared experiences from HIV programmes that successfully employed male engagement as a strategy.
“They stressed the importance of an enabling policy environment that promotes inclusive and equitable health service delivery models.
“They agreed that the way forward to overcome obstacles is to engage leaders and stakeholders at community and government levels to challenge harmful gender norms that impede gender equality and uptake of HIV services for all,” the report read.