Why males in Bangladesh do not participate in reproductive health: what are the lessons learned from the focus group discussions

Md. Shahjahan, Bangladesh Medical Research Council (BMRC)
Mohammad Kabir, Jahangirnagar University

The paper explores the nature of male’s perception, attitude and knowledge on reproductive health issues and their opinions on how men’s participation in reproductive health could be increased. Data for this paper were obtained from six focus groups sessions organized among the men aged 18-59 years. The participants mentioned that males are not motivated to involve in reproductive health issues in Bangladesh. The participants feel that men have also unmet need of reproductive and sexual health. Their needs are not addressed and traditionally they are not encouraged to participate in reproductive health services. In Bangladesh poor interaction between husband and wife often makes it difficult to understand reproductive health problems of women. Because of prevailing culture and myth men do not visit health facility with their wives; they do not feel comfortable to take their wives to the health facility; they feel shy to take them to the health facility because they do not like to discuss sexual reproductive health issues with the service providers. The analysis suggests that a complex web of social and cultural factors impede spousal communication regarding reproductive health issues and that discourage them to take their wives to health clinic. In the FGDs men said that they do not feel comfortable in discussing sexually transmitted diseases with their wives. Generally women come to the health facility for the treatment of RTIs/STDs. Men do not bring their wives to the health facility because they feel shy to discuss such diseases with service providers. In order to increase the male participation in reproductive health males suggested introduction of male workers like that of female workers and visiting them at the household level to counsel and mobilize them to participate in reproductive health. The analysis demonstrates that male involvement will be an important strategy to reach demographic goals in Bangladesh.

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Presented in Session 6: Reproductive health