Pohamba encourages male involvement in PMTCT

29 Aug 2013 07:40
OSHAKATI, 29 AUG (NAMPA) - President Hifikepunye Pohamba says child-bearing and upbringing should be the mutual responsibility of both parents, and not just be “women’s business”.
Pohamba said this at Oshakati in the Oshana Region, as he officially launched the third phase of the First Lady’s Campaign on Male Involvement in the Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) of HIV on Wednesday.
The third phase of the First Lady's PMTCT Campaign targets the northern regions of Oshana, Oshikoto and Omusati. It seeks to encourage male involvement in the PMTCT programmes.
“I want to direct my address to the Namibian men, my fellow countrymen. I am informed that the Ministry of Health and Social Services has been having difficulties in getting fathers involved in the PMTCT programme since its introduction,” said Pohamba.
The president also indicated that he has learned that the HIV testing rate among men is lower than that of women, while men are also under-represented when it comes to anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment programmes and other HIV/AIDS programmes.
This, the Head of State noted, is probably due to the misconceptions and myths which many Namibian men believe in. He explained that some men hide behind certain aspects of their cultures to justify their non-involvement during their partners’ pregnancies, and in the actual rearing of children.
“Some men desert their pregnant women and leave them to attend antenatal care facilities, PMTCT services and the subsequent delivery of the babies on their own,” he said.
Pohamba also explained that the concept of male involvement or participation in child rearing is broader than just providing financial support or providing only the basic needs such as food, a house and paying water and electricity bills.
Speaking at the same event, First Lady Penehupifo Pohamba pointed out that the choice to launch the PMTCT campaign was motivated by the issue of low male involvement in matters related to pregnancy, birth and child care in general, and in HIV services in particular.
She stated that it is a well-known fact that men’s participation in health programmes is often lower than that of women, and this is compounded in PMTCT services.
The Health and Social Services Ministry reported that in 2010, only 3.6 per cent of male partners who attended ante-natal care got tested for HIV, compared to 96 per cent of women.
President Pohamba also officiated at the first phase of the First Lady’s Campaign on Male Involvement in PMTCT in the Khomas Region in 2011, followed by the second phase in the Zambezi Region last year.
Health and Social Services Minister Dr Richard Kamwi directed the launching event, which took place at the Oshakati Independence Stadium.