On 17 and 18 July 2023, the Communications and Public Engagement Department held community debates in Bonjesi and Namila villages in Chikwawa with the aim of stimulating dialogue about health research under the topic “Should men take part in health research?”.
The debates started with music competitions among community members with winners walking away with MLW-branded T-shirts. 10 individuals were selected for each debate, 5 supporting the motion and 5 opposing the motion. Nearly 400 community members attended the debates.
Interesting insights emerged out of the debate with proposers raising strong arguments on why men should take part in health research indicating that men are the heads of households and should be at the forefront in promoting the health and well-being of their families – including the psychological and social protection. The opposers, conversely, sighted socially established gender roles and norms as one of the contributing factors to men’s low involvement in health research. The opposers also pointed out that men get very occupied with earning a living for the family hence having no time to participate in health research.
Speaking during the debate sessions, Group Village Headman Bonjesi encouraged men to take the lead in health research so that they have a community where everyone is healthy. Community Engagement Officer Vincent Mkwinda concluded that it is the responsibility of everyone to participate in health research as this helps to inform action, gather empirical evidence, and contribute to developing knowledge in the field of health.