"we have this, with my husband, we live in harmony": Exploring the gendered decision-making matrix for malaria prevention and treatment in Nampula Province, Mozambique

Zoe Jane Lara Hildon, Maria Escorcio-Ymayo, Rose Zulliger, Rosario Arias De Aramburú, Nan Lewicky, Hunter Harig, Jose Braz Chidassicua, Carol Underwood, Liliana Pinto, Maria Elena Figueroa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Conceptualizing gender dynamics and ways of bridging entrenched gender roles will contribute to better health promotion, policy and planning. Such processes are explored in relation to malaria in Mozambique. Methods: A multi-method, qualitative study using focus group discussions (FGDs) and in-depth interviews (IDIs) explored the perspectives of community members, leaders and stakeholders on malaria. The study was conducted in Nampula Province, in an intervention district for the Tchova Tchova Stop Malaria (TTSM) gender-sensitive community dialogues, and in a non-intervention district. Results: Participants (n = 106) took part in six FGDs and five IDIs in each district. Those exposed to TTSM commonly stated that the programme influenced more equalitarian gender roles, attitudes and uptake of protective malaria-related practices. These positive changes occurred within the context of an observed, gendered decision-making matrix, which aligns inward- or outward-facing decisions with malaria prevention or treatment. Decisions more dependent on male or elder sanctioning at community level are outward-facing decisions, while decisions falling within women's domain at household level are inward-facing decisions. Related to prevention, using bed nets was largely an inward-facing prevention decision for women, who were generally tasked with hanging, washing and making nets usable. Net purchase and appropriation for malaria prevention (rather than for instance for fishing) was men's prerogative. Regular net use was associated with sleeping together more regularly, bringing couples closer. Attending antenatal care to access intermittent preventive treatment during pregnancy was often an outward-facing prevention decision, under the purview of older, influential women and ultimately needing sanctioning by men. With respect to seeking care for malaria symptoms, women typically sought help from traditional healers first. This inward-facing treatment decision was within their control, in contrast to the frequently transport-dependent, outward-facing decision to attend a health facility. Sharing decisions was described as a feature of a "harmonious household," something that was said to be encouraged by the TTSM intervention and that was both lived and aspirational. Conclusions: TTSM community dialogues helped communication on both interpersonal (couple) and community levels, ultimately encouraging malaria-related behaviours. Leveraging ways of bringing men and women together to share decision making will improve malaria intervention success.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number133
JournalMalaria journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 30 2020


  • Communication
  • Community dialogues
  • Gender roles and decision making
  • Malaria prevention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases


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