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Men As Partners Mombasa Workshop

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Men As Partners

First Inter-Regional Workshop on Male Involvement in Sexual and Reproductive Health
Mombasa, Kenya, May 18-22, 1997

"By opening the doors of reproductive health clinics to men, we can improve the health of women and improve men's health as well," said Dr. Isaiah Ndong of AVSC International at the opening session of a this international workshop on men's reproductive health held in Mombasa, Kenya.

At this ground-breaking workshop, over 140 participants discussed practical ways to provide services to men and to support their constructive involvement in the health of their female partners. Over five days, representatives from health programs that have successfully served men shared what they have learned with colleagues who want to start or improve services for men. Most significantly, country teams from Egypt, Eritrea, Ghana, India, Kenya, Pakistan, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda left Mombasa with detailed action plans to implement in their home countries. Team members had been selected in advance of the meeting in part for their ability to influence national policies and practices in their home countries.

The teams committed themselves to a number of activities, including programs to address the needs of male adolescents, adaptations of training curricula and educational materials to address the concerns of male clients and their partners, and educational initiatives aimed at policy makers to help them understand the value of constructively involving men in reproductive health. The activities spelled out in the plans will be incorporated into existing national strategies or programs. Participants at Mombasa recognized the need to safeguard services for women and to protect individual women's right to services while at the same time doing a better job of serving men.

In preparing their country plans, team members drew upon case studies of health programs that already offer services to men in four countries. AVSC conducted the studies in preparation for the meeting, and representatives from the programs spoke in Mombasa and shared their experience with participants.

Why is men's reproductive health important? Men represent half of the world's population, but account for less than one-third of contraceptive use. Women disproportionately bear the burden of unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. The increase in sexually transmitted infections, including HIV infection, make it essential for men to be more responsible for disease prevention.

Traditionally, reproductive health services have been primarily aimed at women, but countries are beginning to move toward increased services for men. At the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, 183 nations signed a program of action calling for the expansion of reproductive health services for men, a mandate supported by the 189 countries in attendance at the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995. In her remarks at the workshop, Dr. Amy E. Pollack, AVSC's president, echoed the sentiments expressed at Cairo and Beijing: "Men's and women's health are not isolated. As informed partners, we're stronger together."

To order the complete report from the Men As Partners regional Workshop in Mombasa, Kenya, please e-mail MAP@avsc.org

More about MAP workshops.

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