BACKGROUND : Men’s involvement in maternal and child health presents an opportunity for the advancement of
maternal and child nutrition as men often play a key role in decision-making particularly regarding women’s
reproductive health. While most research on men’s involvement in maternal and child health has focused on men’s
participation in antenatal care, this study focuses specifically on men’s involvement in maternal and child nutrition.
The purpose of the study is to explore how men’s involvement is conceptualised in rural Central Malawi,
highlighting the key factors influencing men’s involvement in maternal and child health.
METHODS : Focus group discussions and in-depth interviews were conducted with 26 informants and 44 community
members. Critical policy was used as the theoretical framework to inform the analysis of research findings.
RESULTS : In this study, we identified several factors that facilitate men’s involvement in maternal and child health,
but we also identified several barriers. Facilitators of men’s involvement included: recognition by men of the impact
of their involvement, pride, advocacy, incentives and disincentives and male champions. Barriers included sociocultural
beliefs, stigmatisation and opportunity costs. The study also found that there were several limitations that
had unintended consequences on desired programme outcomes. These included: discriminating against women,
marginalisation of married women and reinforcing men’s decision-making roles.
CONCLUSION : The study findings highlight the importance of involving men in maternal and child health for improved
nutrition outcomes. We emphasise the need for nutrition policy-makers to be aware that gender dynamics are changing.
It is no longer just women who are involved in nutrition activities, therefore policy-makers need to revise their approach
to ensure that they consider men’s role in nutrition.