First Lady wants fathers to support pregnant mothers

09 Nov 2013 10:50am
EENHANA, 09 NOV (NAMPA) – First Lady Penehupifo Pohamba has called on fathers to become ambassadors of change by promoting positive norms and increased participation of men in the prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) programme.
Pohamba said this in a statement presented on her behalf by the Deputy Minister of Health and Social Services, Petrina Haingura at the launch of the fourth phase of the First Lady’s campaign on male involvement in PMTCT at Eenhana in the Ohangwena Region on Thursday.
The First Lady also wants men to be involved in other health matters pertaining to mothers and children, and to move towards a new image of fatherhood in Namibia’s diverse society.
She pointed out that not only men are to blame for their low involvement in the PMTCT programme, adding that health providers and women are also to blame as they do not play a significant role in facilitating male involvement.
“For example health providers, especially females, due to their own personal beliefs and cultural practices, are reported to discourage male partners from using maternal health services,” Pohamba stated.
She urged fathers to work hand-in-hand with the mothers of their children in order to increase awareness and basic knowledge of the key elements and benefits of the PMTCT programme.
“Remember, an HIV-free tomorrow needs caring fathers today,” she noted.
The First Lady suggested that the care and upbringing of children also be a 50-50 per cent responsibility between fathers and mothers.
Often, Pohamba said, men are misled by some aspects of culture that describe pregnancies and taking care of children as being the business of women.
The First Lady’s PMTCT campaign was prompted by the low male involvement in matters related to pregnancies, birth and the care of children in general, and HIV/AIDS services in particular.
Her campaign is focused on Zambezi, Kavango, Ohangwena, Omusati, Oshana and Oshikoto as the regions said to still have high rates of HIV prevalence in Namibia as per the 2012 National HIV Sentinel Survey.
The First Lady’s PMTCT Campaign was launched in the Khomas Region in 2011, followed by a second event held in the Zambezi Region in 2012. The third campaign was held at Oshakati for the regions of Oshana, Omusati and Oshikoto in August this year.