Ever wondered about why it is your mum that mostly took you to the clinic for immunizations and other checkups and not your dad? The reasons are endless and in some parts of Kenya, it is the way of life because tradition dictates that women take care of the children. However in Kipkelion, one man has decided to let this aspect of tradition rest with the ancestors.
MEN WHO CARRY LONG LASTING INSECTICIDE-TREATED NETS (LLINS)
Male participation remains a key factor in determining how women seek health services across the globe. The World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations agree that when men accompany their wives for various health services it will lead to more women seeking health services. This is because the couple has harmonised attitudes and cultural perceptions about seeking health services.
This is especially true in Rift Valley region in Kenya where use of Long Lasting Insecticide-treated Nets (LLINs) largely requires the involvement of men. Stanley Chepkwony is one man who has broken ranks with most men in his region by accompanying his wife to seek health services. I met Stanley as he was coming from Kipkelion Sub-District hospital with his wife, Dorcas Chepkwony, who was carrying their 3-month old baby on her back. Not only was he challenging taboo by accompanying his wife to the clinic, Stanley was also carrying a Long lasting Insecticide-treated Net (LLIN) and the umbrella that shields the baby from the sun. “I decided that since the baby belongs to us, it is important that we visit the clinic together. I always support her and she loves this,” said Stanley. He went ahead to explain that his wife really benefited from the first net that she got during her first pregnancy. “Malaria is a bad disease and that is why I am carrying this net. I really thank the company that gives us these nets for free (PS Kenya), because they really protect our wives and children from Malaria,” Stanley said.
Creating awareness among men on the importance of sleeping under a net all year round is a priority in this part of Kenya. Being an epidemic Malaria zone, the disease is not rampant hence most people take lightly the issue of LLIN use. Men also need more targeting since most women have changed their attitude towards LLIN use owing to the free net program by PS Kenya. Having men understand this is important owing to their role as decision makers in the family. Women are more likely to use nets to protect their children when their partners are concerned about their health. As Stanley puts it, “Men need to work with their spouses in the fight against Malaria. They should also take their women to the clinic for immunizations and ensure that they collect LLINs.”
But his way of doing things is contrary to the lifestyle of the region where most do not accompany women to the clinic let alone carry LLINs for their wives. “Some men don’t care but I do. I don’t even fear carrying a net as we go home,” Stanley points out.
Throughout the interview, his wife Dorcas beams with pride at the support that she has received from her husband. “He has been very supportive and always insists that we use a net at home. This has reduced cases of Malaria in my family,” says Dorcas.
Through its campaign, ‘Msimu wowote’, PS Kenya seeks to reinforce the use of LLINs all year round by the whole family. This message, currently running on various mass media platforms including television and radio makes men a part and parcel of Malaria prevention through the use of LLINs for whole family protection against malaria
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