The role of television in de-stigmatization of reproductive and sexual health issues affecting men
Ooko, Damaris A
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Much of the literature with regard to men's involvement in reproductive health emphasizes men's reluctance to address their own health, the health of their sexual partners, and the health of their children (Nataraj 1994; Singh, Bloom and Tsui, 1998). As a result, programs directed towards men and reproductive health have emphasized expansion of their health knowledge, a redefinition of their gender roles, a reduction of their risky behaviours, and an increased utilization of healthcare services. Intervention programs, however, must cope with current realities: Men have poor knowledge of their own health, let alone of the health of women and children; a significant number of men will not easily conform to calls for gender equity; in most locales men underutilize healthcare services; and men are more prone to engagement in such risky behaviours as smoking, alcohol and drug use, and extramarital sex that put themselves and their families at risk. Although the challenges and obstacles have been apparent, the answers have not been so easily forthcoming. Though there is a commitment to change men's behaviour, much of that change is based on concerns and concepts that have been exogenously generated, particularly when directed toward men who must also cope with a wide range of economic, environmental, and structural deficiencies that undermine attention to their own health and the health of their families. This paper suggests that before we move to the change mode, we need to carefully and systematically listen to and observe men within local communities to identify their unique concerns and utilize that knowledge for the development of change opportunities.