Community Discussions on Reproductive Health and Safe Motherhood
This past week I have started my first trips to villages outside of Sumbawanga Town. Through focus group discussions, led with the help of my research assistant, we learned an enormous amount about the needs of the community related to health care services and, particularly, health education. Additionally, we gained a great deal of insight into the relations between men and women and the ways in which these relations may be inhibiting male participation in reproductive health care services.
In addition to listening to the community members, we answered many questions concerning giving birth at the regional hospital, family planning, HIV testing, and community participation in health care services. We responded to concerns by parents related to what they view as problematic early pregnancies and the behavior of their teenage children that seem to be leading to these early pregnancies. We discussed with the Village Chairman about the dangers of childhood pregnancy and marriage for girls and some possible ways for managing these issues within his community.
In partnership with the health care providers at the village dispensary, I am now helping them to plan a health education seminar for the village's young people, as well as some health seminars for women together with their husbands. Women told us men were reluctant to go with them to the prenatal clinic, which has been widely emphasized by the government, and women said their husbands accuse them of lying about the information they are receiving at the clinic. By brainstorming some new methods of delivering health education within the community based on their current needs and interests, I have high hopes we may continue to increase men's willingness to participate in these important services and to support their wives, daughters, and daughter-in-laws. I'm also working with the District Medical Office to give them feedback from our meetings and to encourage them to more effectively communicate with and support the dispensary and the efforts of the health care providers in this village.