Below is a portion of Elizabeth Pisani‘s response to an email I sent her last week, alerting her that I had linked to her blog, and asking her to weigh-in on any possible link between DC and Uganda’s HIV/AIDS rates. I’m going to (selfishly) roll out her response over the next few days (as I do a bit more research about female condoms). In the mean time, here’s a bit of her very thoughtful response:
I think the real problem here is that we’ve all bought into the idea that it
must fall to women to find ways of protecting themselves or their partners
from HIV transmission. In other parts of the world, where we have not simply decided that men are pigs and can’t be worked with, up to 80 or 90 percent of clients happily use condoms when they are buying sex. Have we really all decided that African men can’t be persuaded to do the same? More here if you’re interested.
Elizabeth’s statement above particularly reminded me of something I had read on Malaria Matters, and then on Ghana News: In an effort to fight pediatric malaria incidence, city officials in Sunyani, Ghana have “call[ed] on mothers to continue to use insecticide treated bednets for their children.”
What about Dads in Sunyani? Bill Brieger’s original point, in his post on Malaria Matters, was that it takes an entire community to sustain health interventions. Why does the Ghana News automatically discount the fathers in their community from helping to safeguard the health of their own children?
I’m not familiar with cultural gender relations in any African country, let alone Ghana. And one could argue that American men aren’t always held as accountable for health outcomes as women are (good girls in the US keep their legs closed, or at the very least, take the pill – alone). Still, the Sunyani city officials seem to expect much less of the men in their community, as concerns the health of the community.
Assuming that Sunyani men are not held accountable for the health of their families and communities the way Sunyani women are, one has to wonder how much healthier these families and communities would be if staying healthy (using condoms and bed nets, for instance) were truly an all-hands-on-deck effort.
Put another way: might a bit more gender equality save a few more lives in Ghana?