Marriage Counseling for Newlyweds

To better deliver health messages to newlyweds, SSDI-Communication engaged ecumenical marriage counselors to be champions of the Moyo ndi Mpamba (Life is precious) campaign by promoting health as a necessity for strong families during marriage counseling sessions with newlyweds. SSDI-Communication chose to include this approach in its overall strategy because a situation analysis revealed that religious marriage counseling sessions touched upon health issues, but that the sessions were not fully capitalizing on the unique opportunity to deliver targeted health messages to newly married couples.

Collaboration to Support Newlyweds

SSDI-Communication worked with the Ministry of Health and faith leaders to develop a booklet for young married couples (the Takunyadirani [“We Celebrate You”] booklet) containing messages on priority health topics especially relevant to couples who are about to be married or who are newly married: maternal and child health, nutrition, family planning, malaria in pregnancy, and HIV & AIDS. The project also developed a training for religious marriage counselors, and conducted trainings in six districts.

Trained counselors reached out to young married couples through counseling sessions, small-group church meetings, door-to-door visits, marriage outreach sessions, mock weddings, and sermons. The Takunyadirani booklet served as a guide for counseling sessions.

Strong Couples for Strong Families

SSDI-Communication trained over 1,450 marriage counselors in six districts, and distributed 14,000 Takunyadirani booklets to as many newlywed couples, representing over 90% coverage of all marriages that occurred in the catchment areas of trained counselors; these couples also benefitted from counseling sessions.

Anecdotal reports from couples indicate an uptake in HIV testing before marriage, male participation in family planning-related decisionmaking, and better knowledge of danger signs during pregnancy.