Today, just one day after the infamous #ValentinesDay, was my first lecture to first year students of public health at Bishop Stuart University on #Maternal&ChildNutrition. So, instead of the traditional preperation for a 3 hour-long lecture, I opted for a 30 minute introduction and participatory learning techniques-thanks to my back ground in education from Mbarara University of Science & Technology!
I usually find my students so attentive that I get worried whether actually they are interested in what the hell Iam saying, or are they #JustPlayingTheGame of being a student:-I always wonder. I stop to evaluate this by asking ‘stupid questions’ to get them off their mark, and today, wasnt any different. I, out of the blue started asking the question: ‘We have maternal and child health indicators etc in our numberless maternal and child health-nutrition, yes?’..’But why in hell dont we have indicators of paternal health?’ ‘Could it be that indicators of say, paternal mortality rates are sooo ignored that they may not be indicators of development of a certain country?’…I asked.
Lets face it: From the WHO or OMS definition of health as a ‘physical mental social well being of an individual and not merely absence of disease or infirmity’, it seems to me that men whose wives are expecting children, have alot of paternal health issues: Aren’t these fathers usually faced with the financial pothole that arises even when the woman hasn’t delivered-forget when the woman delivers quadruplets? Isnt the father, emotionally strained for imagining the worst during the process of delivery? I know that, in many local African communities (and Iam proudly African), expectant mothers are usually sent to their original mothers and are welcome after delivery to their homes. But, as a man, this is the hottest hell that a real man goes through! One cant even think of anything constructive, because the only thing on ones mind is the ‘health, safety and the sex of the offspring’. We live in a patriarchal society, where men rule, state the rules and women are expected to oblige on all issues to do with family income, assets management etc. I feel that whoever represented my country (I mean Africa) should have advised the MDG Board in New York (2000) to include an indicator to measure Involvement and participation of men in maternal and child health issues. Merely stating that…..halve the number of MMR cases by 2015 isnt enough, because this couldnt happen without the men. I think (or am I dreaming ..no, am not) 😛 that…stating…countries have 110% of the men accompanying their wives at all ANC service stations, or 80% of men save 100% of all costs involved in pregnancy up to 42 days after birth: These are my ideal indicators and I standing on my two legs, would ove to see something close to a paternal health index in place for such issues. If WHO/OMS hasnt thought about, I can be of help, at no extra cost 😀 LMAO
As one of my students, Dorothy, correctly asked me, ‘What else do men do apart from having sex and impregnanting their wives?’ To me, this doesnt sound stupid! Seriously, this first year student in her arguably first experience in public health field is wondering if there is an indicator to measure mens roles in promoting maternal and child health. Without an arguement, men should have been given more focus on issues of maternal health than ever! Am sure they were over represented while formulating the MDGs ❤
© Brian Kanaahe Mwebaze is a Lecturer of Public Health at Bishop Stuart University as well as a Youth Health Consultant for the Red Cross