Male partner involvement in health interventions: A systematic review of best practices in Sub-Saharan Africa


  • Admire Chereni Academic Coordinator, Centre for Academic Technologies, University of Johannesburg
  • Nhlanganiso Nyathi Visiting Fellow, Faculty of Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care, Anglia Ruskin University
  • Justice Mbizo Associate Professor, Usha Kundu, MD College of Health, University of West Florida, Pensacola



HIV;, AIDS, male involvement, health interventions, Sub-Saharan Africa


Health promotion programmes aimed at the involvement of men are implemented in a complex cultural and socio-demographic context that reifies persistent unequal gender relations. The explanations and evidence for the mechanisms by which male involvement facilitates health and wellness, are, however, less clear. Drawing on findings from a qualitative systematic review of peer-reviewed studies, this article synthesises the literature on health, social policy, and programme interventions for improving male partner involvement to promote sexual and reproductive health, HIV and AIDS health outcomes in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Findings suggest that combining approaches such as mass education campaigns and health and social care programmes, targeting both men and women, improves male participation. Finally, enhancing participation of both men and women in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of health program programmes, can lead to positive gender role transformations and positive health and social care outcomes in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Keywords: HIV; AIDS; Male Involvement; Health Interventions; Sub-Saharan Africa  


Aarnio, P., Olsson, P., Chimbiri, A., & Kulmala, T. (2009) Male involvement in antenatal HIV counselling and testing: exploring men’s perceptions in rural Malawi. AIDS Care, 21, 12, 1537-546

Ahinkorah, B. O., Ameyaw, E. K., Seidu, A. A., Odusina, E. K., Keetile, M., & Yaya, S. (2021) Examining barriers to healthcare access and utilization of antenatal care services: evidence from demographic health surveys in sub-Saharan Africa. BMC Health Services Research, 21, 1, 1-16

Ani, F., Abiodun, O., Sotunsa, J., Faturoti, O., Imaralu, J., & Olaleye, A. (2016) Demographic factors related to male involvement in reproductive health care services in Nigeria. The European Journal of Contraception & Reproductive Health Care, 21, 1, 57-67

Ansu-Mensah, M., Mohammed, T., Udoh, R. H., Bawontuo, V., & Kuupiel, D. (2019) Mapping evidence of free maternal healthcare financing and quality of care in sub-Saharan Africa: a systematic scoping review protocol. Health Research Policy and Systems, 17, 1, 1-6

Barnett-Page, E., & Thomas, J. (2009) Methods for the synthesis of qualitative research: a critical review. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 9, 1, 1-11

Chibango, V. (2020) Factors associated with male partner involvement in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of human immunodeficiency virus in the Gokwe North District, Zimbabwe: A qualitative study. HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies, 76, 3, 10

Clark, J., Sweet, L., Nyoni, S., & Ward, P. R. (2020) Improving male involvement in antenatal care in low and middle-income countries to prevent mother to child transmission of HIV: a realist review. PloS One, 15, 10, e0240087

Comrie-Thomson, L., Mavhu, W., Makungu, C., Nahar, Q., Khan, R., Davis, J., & Vaughan, C. (2020) Male involvement interventions and improved couples’ emotional relationships in Tanzania and Zimbabwe: ‘When we are walking together, I feel happy’. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 22, 6, 722-739

Finfgeld-Connett, D. (2014) Use of content analysis to conduct knowledge-building and theory-generating qualitative systematic reviews. Qualitative Research, 14, 3, 341-352

Galle, A., Plaieser, G., Van Steenstraeten, T., Griffin, S., Osman, N. B., Roelens, K., & Degomme, O. (2021) Systematic review of the concept ‘male involvement in maternal health by natural language processing and descriptive analysis. BMJ Global Health, 6, 4, e004909

Jefferys, L. F., Nchimbi, P., Mbezi, P., Sewangi, J., & Theuring, S. (2015) Official invitation letters to promote male partner attendance and couple voluntary HIV counselling and testing in antenatal care: an implementation study in Mbeya Region, Tanzania. Reproductive Health, 12, 1, 1-10

Hampanda, K. M., Mweemba, O., Ahmed, Y., Hatcher, A., Turan, J. M., Darbes, L., & Abuogi, L. L. (2020) Support or control? Qualitative interviews with Zambian women on male partner involvement in HIV care during and after pregnancy. PloS One, 15, 8, e0238097

Henning, T. B. (1999) Literature review: Synthesizing multiple sources. IUPUI University Writing Center, Indianápolis

Kayongo, C. X., & Miller, A. N. (2019) Men’s Response to Obulamu Campaign Messages about Male Involvement in Maternal Health: Mukono District, Uganda. Health Communication, 34, 13, 1533-1542

Komakech, M. D. (2020) Under-the-Mango-Tree: a theatre-based male EMTCT engagement intervention in post-conflict northern Uganda. Global Health Promotion, 27, 3, 113-121

Maluka, S., Japhet, P., Fitzgerald, S., Begum, K., Alexander, M., & Kamuzora, P. (2020) Leaving no one behind: using action research to promote male involvement in maternal and child health in Iringa region, Tanzania. BMJ Open, 10, 11, e038823

McLean, K. E. (2020) Men’s experiences of pregnancy and childbirth in Sierra Leone: Reexamining definitions of ‘male partner involvement’. Social Science & Medicine, 265, 113479

Mark, J., Kinuthia, J., Osoti, A. O., Gone, M. A., Asila, V., Krakowiak, D., & Roxby, A. C. (2019) Male Partner Linkage to Clinic-based Services for Sexually Transmitted infections and HIV. Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 46, 11, 716

Mekonnen, T., Dune, T., & Perz, J. (2019) Maternal health service utilisation of adolescent women in sub-Saharan Africa: a systematic scoping review. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 19, 1, 1-16

Mersha, A. G. (2018) Male involvement in the maternal health care system: implication towards decreasing the high burden of maternal mortality. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 18, 1, 1-8

Mufune, P. (2009) The male involvement programme and men’s sexual and reproductive health in northern Namibia. Current Sociology, 57, 2, 231-248

Mugumbate, J., & Chereni, A. (2019) Using African Ubuntu theory in social work with children in Zimbabwe. African Journal of Social Work, 9, 1

Nkhoma, N., Nyondo-Mipando, L. A., Makanjee, C., Myburgh, N. D., & Nyasulu, P. S. (2019) ‘What Will I Be Doing There Among So Many Women?’: Perceptions on Male Support in Prevention of Mother to Child Services in Lilongwe, Malawi. Global Paediatric Health, 6, 2333794X19865442

Ng, E., & de Colombani, P. (2015) Framework for selecting best practices in public health: a systematic literature review. Journal of Public Health Research, 4, 3

Nkwonta, C. A., & Messias, D. K. (2019) Male Participation in Reproductive Health Interventions in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Scoping Review. International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 45, 71-85

Pound, P., & Campbell, R. (2015) Exploring the feasibility of theory synthesis: a worked example in the field of health related risk-taking. Social Science & Medicine, 124, 57-65

Roberts S.T, Nair G, Baeten J. M, Palanee-Philips T, Schwartz K, Reddy K, Kabwigu S, Kiweewa F. M, Govender V, Gaffoor Z, Singh N. (2020) Impact of male partner involvement on women’s adherence to the dapivirine vaginal ring during a phase III HIV prevention trial. AIDS and Behavior, 24, 5, 1432-1442

Seers, K. (2015) Qualitative systematic reviews: their importance for our understanding of research relevant to pain. British Journal of Pain, 9, 1, 36-40

Spencer, L. M., Schooley, M. W., Anderson, L. A., Kochtitzky, C. S., DeGroff, A. S., Devlin, H. M., & Mercer, S. L. (2013) Peer reviewed: Seeking best practices: A conceptual Framework for planning and improving evidence-based practices. Preventing Chronic Disease, 10

Stern, E., Pascoe, L., Shand, T., & Richmond, S. (2015) Lessons learned from engaging men in sexual and reproductive health as clients, partners, and advocates of change in the Hoima district of Uganda. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 17, sup2, 190-205

Theuring, S., Nchimbi, P., Jordan-Harder, B., & Harms, G. (2010) Partner involvement in perinatal care and PMTCT services in Mbeya Region, Tanzania: the providers’ perspective. AIDS Care, 22, 12, 1562-1568

Tong, A., Flemming, K., McInnes, E., Oliver, S., & Craig, J. (2012) Enhancing transparency in reporting the synthesis of qualitative research: ENTREQ. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 12, 1, 1-8

UN Assembly, G. (2015) Sustainable development goals. SDGs Transform Our World, 2030

United Nations, 2020. Sustainable Development Goals. Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. [Accessed at]

UNICEF. (2021) Under-five mortality. [Accessed at]

WHO. (2019) Maternal mortality. [Accessed at]

Williams, P., Santos, N., Azman-Firdaus, H., Musange, S., Walker, D., Sayinzoga, F., & Chen, Y. H. (2021) Predictors of postpartum family planning in Rwanda: the influence of male involvement and healthcare experience. BMC Women’s Health, 21, 1, 1-9

Wondim, G., Degu, G., Teka, Y., & Diress, G. (2020) Male Involvement in Family Planning Utilization and Associated Factors in Womberma District, Northern Ethiopia: Community-Based Cross-Sectional Study. Open Access Journal of Contraception, 11, 197




How to Cite

Chereni, A., Nyathi, N., & Mbizo, J. . (2022). Male partner involvement in health interventions: A systematic review of best practices in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Journal of Practice Teaching and Learning, 19(1-2).