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Glob Health Sci Pract. 2018 Jun 29;6(2):317-329. doi: 10.9745/GHSP-D-17-00471. Print 2018 Jun 27.

Engaging Men in Family Planning: Perspectives From Married Men in Lomé, Togo.

Author information

1
Cabinet de Recherche et d'Évaluation (CERA), Lomé, Togo.
2
Bixby Center for Population, Health and Sustainability, School of Public Health, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, USA.
3
University of Kara, Kara, Togo.
4
International Business and Technical Consultants, Inc. (IBTCI), Vienna, VA, USA.
5
University of Kinshasa, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo.
6
United States Agency for International Development/West Africa, Regional Health Office, Accra, Ghana.
7
Bixby Center for Population, Health and Sustainability, School of Public Health, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, USA. ndola@berkeley.edu.

Abstract

Family planning programs have made vast progress in many regions of sub-Saharan Africa in the last decade, but francophone West Africa is still lagging behind. More emphasis on male engagement might result in better outcomes, especially in countries with strong patriarchal societies. Few studies in francophone West Africa have examined attitudes of male involvement in family planning from the perspective of men themselves, yet this evidence is necessary for development of successful family planning projects that include men. This qualitative study, conducted in 2016, explored attitudes of 72 married men ages 18-54 through 6 focus groups in the capital of Togo, Lomé. Participants included professional workers as well as skilled and unskilled workers. Results indicate that men have specific views on family planning based on their knowledge and understanding of how and why women might use contraception. While some men did have reservations, both founded and not, there was an overwhelmingly positive response to discussing family planning and being engaged with related decisions and services. Four key findings from the analyses of focus group responses were: (1) socioeconomic motivations drive men's interest in family planning; (2) men strongly disapprove of unilateral decisions by women to use family planning; (3) misconceptions surrounding modern methods can hinder support for family planning; and (4) limited method choice for men, insufficient venues to receive services, and few messages that target men create barriers for male engagement in family planning. Future attempts to engage men in family planning programs should pay specific attention to men's concerns, misconceptions, and their roles in family decision making. Interventions should educate men on the socioeconomic and health benefits of family planning while explaining the possible side effects and dispelling myths. To help build trust and facilitate open communication, family planning programs that encourage counseling of husbands and wives in their homes by community health workers, trusted men, or couples who have successfully used or are currently using family planning to achieve their desired family size will be important.

PMID:
29743188
PMCID:
PMC6024630
DOI:
10.9745/GHSP-D-17-00471
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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