Studies have shown that child survival can be greater when fathers are more highly involved in infant care than when they are less involved. This paper investigates fathers’ and paternal grandmothers’ knowledge and experiences relating to infants’ survival in a rural district of Eastern Indonesia, a context for which such information is lacking. Twenty fathers or replacement relatives participated in in-depth interviews. Most had very limited knowledge of the danger signs of childhood illness. None of participants had received child health-related information from local health personnel. Male-dominated forms of decision-making in relation to infant health care are the norm. Inadequacies in the child health services, such as difficulties in accessing health facilities, health personnel unavailability and discomfort during delivery, remain as challenges. Fathers appear to rely largely on their wives for their infant health and survival knowledge and have little involvement with their infants. They see their roles in terms of providing economic support and basic care for their infants. Grandmothers are seen as a major source of health information by fathers, but have limited knowledge of infant survival. The findings demonstrate a need for child health promotion programs and campaigns, including the safe motherhood program, to include fathers as well as mothers, in order to increase their awareness of infant survival and involvement in infant raising, and to persuade them to allow mothers greater scope to make child health-seeking decisions, especially when children require emergency treatment.
- Infant health
- Infant survival