NAC laments men’s low utilisation of health programmes

Phillipa Jaja

The National Aids Council (NAC) has blamed men for the low response to its constitutional mandate of coordinating and facilitating the national multi-sectoral response to HIV and AIDS.

Speaking on the side-lines of the Commemoration of 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence (GBV), District AIDS coordinator for Uzumba Marambapfungwe, Owen Mupemhi said men have low health seeking behaviours compared to women.

“Utilisation towards national AIDS oriented programme by men is different as compared to their female counterparts. Take for example the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PTMCT) programme.

“I urge you to visit any local health facility and enquire about the male involvement; in it you will see that it is very low. The same can be said for HIV testing where men’s involvement is very low once again. Most men tend to assume their female counterparts’ results as theirs and not seek help.”

He said the organisation’s coordination strategy was tailor made to simplify access to AIDS related care.

“The machinery for the coordination of the national response by the NAC is from the village level where the village head is chairperson of the committee overseeing programmes.

“From the head we have the head of the district assuming the same task to province then national level. This coordination strategy has never changed since inception.”

He said as a result of the council had come up with social initiative strategies to get men to cooperate.

“We launched Brotha 2 Brotha, a mentorship group for adolescent boys ages 10-24 years. It has clubs which offer Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) information through sports centered intervention.”

However men that spoke to the Review & Mail said NAC needed to improve their delivery systems to ensure male complicity to their programmes.

“The Council has few male staff as service providers hence it is sometimes difficult for men to approach females on issues regarding sexual reproductive health issues.

Rather, they should have male mobilisers especially here in these village settings as men open up to men they are familiar with,” said a villager who requested anonymity for personal reasons.

Village head Cephas Mutyandaedza said incentivising them will improve male mobilisation.

“Village heads should be awarded with monetary incentives so as to ensure their full cooperation in these programmes. We have families to feed and this work will sometimes take most of our time hence there is need to take that into account.”

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