A quest to engage men in the promotion of uptake of modern family planning services in Chikwawa has taken a stride through open days that were organized by Chikwawa District Hospital and Family Planning Association of Malawi with support from UNFPA under theme “Promoting Access to Modern Family Planning Services.”

Patrick Mchenga 40, a parent from TA Lundu in Chikwawa district appealed to men to recognize that most women are forced to give birth to more children because most men in Chikwawa do not have adequate knowledge of family planning. “Most happy families have men who have good knowledge of contraception and their spouses do not face any restriction to access modern family planning methods. I’m one of those men who use modern contraception in my family, and we are happy,” he said.

Mchenga: Plan for a happy family my fellow people

Odala Adam 22 who is a Community Based Distribution Agent (CBDA), and a member of the Nchalo Youth Club called on male gender not to be shy about contraception. “Guys its time to rethink the benefits of delaying fatherhood until you are ready to take care of the child. Life is expensive and planning for a happy family begins with planning when to have a child and how many children to have. This is possible with modern contraception only because it is reliable,” he said.

Steve Munyonga 25, a nurse from Chikwawa DHO who provided integrated sexual reproductive health services during FPAM organized market open days in the district, noted that most girls and women demand injectable contraception regardless of comprehensive counselling to opt for other family planning methods. “Most women are afraid of their spouses and boyfriends because most men in Chikwawa believe that contraception takes off women’s libido and that it causes cancer. Most people here have a culture of having more children and family planning becomes a barrier to their norm. This makes women sneak and access contraception that cannot be known to their spouses,” he said. “I think having more community engagements like these would help to penetrate cultural and religious barriers including dispelling myths and misconception circulating family planning to increase uptake of modern contraception among men and women,” he added.

Munyonga: More community dialogue meetings can dispel FP myths and misconception

SGVH Malemia, TA Ngabu 89 observed that there were only four million during his young age in Nyasaland, now there are more than 20 Million, but land is not even extending to accommodate the growing population. “We need to have families we can feed, clothe, educate and provide for all necessary needs with ease,” he said.

The Ngabu chief however, appreciated that although the penetration of cultural, religious, and traditional social norms are restricting some people from accessing modern family planning services is taking a great direction because of continuous health community engagement sessions that are increasing knowledge of family planning in his area.

“I should thank our health surveillance assistants, nurses, and all health workers for strengthening door to door information and service reach that is helping youth, men and women to know more about modern family planning services. It is evident that a manageable family is a key to family happiness and contraception is a catalyst to that,” he said. “It’s true there are still cultural and religious restrictions but every chief under TA Ngabu does not tolerate beliefs that inhibit people from accessing condoms and other contraceptives,” said SGVH Malemia.

FPAM executive Director Donald Makwakwa supported the narrative of Director of Reproductive Health Fanny Kachale that regardless that Chikwawa modern family planning services uptake is at 46/100 percentage among women against government target of 59/100 women who were supposed to be on modern family planning service, men are encouraged to take leading role in ensuring that girls and women are not restricted from accessing the family planning services.

Kachale: Called on Chikwawa people to accept utility of modern family planning

“As you can see in the Chikwawa Health Promotion Group drama, most men do not know what family planning methods are all about and such men do not have time to engage with health workers to learn more. It’s time that men and women should maximize family planning dialogue to avoid gender-based violence and all sorts of misunderstanding while cherishing their family health,” Makwakwa added.

 Edutainment supported community mobilization and access to modern family planning information and one of the culturally accepted artist who performed during the open day was Livison Thifu 39. “I use music to help people understand development ideas and contraception information is very key in ensuring that people have manageable happy families and healthier,” he said.  

UNFPA JPGE III project through FPAM began serving people of Salima, Dedza, Mangochi and Kasungu in 2014 to 2017 in phase I, 2018 to 2020 in phase II, 2021 to 2023 in phase III and 705,081 young people have been served with sexual reproductive health services comprehensive information and integrated services through mobile clinics.