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1.  Exploring the context in which different close-to-community sexual and reproductive health service providers operate in Bangladesh: a qualitative study 
Background
A range of formal and informal close-to-community (CTC) health service providers operate in an increasingly urbanized Bangladesh. Informal CTC health service providers play a key role in Bangladesh’s pluralistic health system, yet the reasons for their popularity and their interactions with formal providers and the community are poorly understood. This paper aims to understand the factors shaping poor urban and rural women’s choice of service provider for their sexual and reproductive health (SRH)-related problems and the interrelationships between these providers and communities. Building this evidence base is important, as the number and range of CTC providers continue to expand in both urban slums and rural communities in Bangladesh. This has implications for policy and future programme interventions addressing the poor women’s SRH needs.
Methods
Data was generated through 24 in-depth interviews with menstrual regulation clients, 12 focus group discussions with married men and women in communities and 24 semi-structured interviews with formal and informal CTC SRH service providers. Data was collected between July and September 2013 from three urban slums and one rural site in Dhaka and Sylhet, Bangladesh. Atlas.ti software was used to manage data analysis and coding, and a thematic analysis was undertaken.
Results
Poor women living in urban slums and rural areas visit a diverse range of CTC providers for SRH-related problems. Key factors influencing their choice of provider include the following: availability, accessibility, expenses and perceived quality of care, the latter being shaped by notions of trust, respect and familiarity. Informal providers are usually the first point of contact even for those clients who subsequently access SRH services from formal providers. Despite existing informal interactions between both types of providers and a shared understanding that this can be beneficial for clients, there is no effective link or partnership between these providers for referral, coordination and communication regarding SRH services.
Conclusion
Training informal CTC providers and developing strategies to enable better links and coordination between this community-embedded cadre and the formal health sector has the potential to reduce service cost and improve availability of quality SRH (and other) care at the community level.
doi:10.1186/s12960-015-0045-z
PMCID: PMC4556024  PMID: 26323508
Close-to-community health service providers; Informal health service providers; Sexual and reproductive health; Menstrual regulation; Bangladesh
2.  Community Mobilization in Mumbai Slums to Improve Perinatal Care and Outcomes: A Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(7):e1001257.
David Osrin and colleagues report findings from a cluster-randomized trial conducted in Mumbai slums; the trial aimed to evaluate whether facilitator-supported women's groups could improve perinatal outcomes.
Introduction
Improving maternal and newborn health in low-income settings requires both health service and community action. Previous community initiatives have been predominantly rural, but India is urbanizing. While working to improve health service quality, we tested an intervention in which urban slum-dweller women's groups worked to improve local perinatal health.
Methods and Findings
A cluster randomized controlled trial in 24 intervention and 24 control settlements covered a population of 283,000. In each intervention cluster, a facilitator supported women's groups through an action learning cycle in which they discussed perinatal experiences, improved their knowledge, and took local action. We monitored births, stillbirths, and neonatal deaths, and interviewed mothers at 6 weeks postpartum. The primary outcomes described perinatal care, maternal morbidity, and extended perinatal mortality. The analysis included 18,197 births over 3 years from 2006 to 2009. We found no differences between trial arms in uptake of antenatal care, reported work, rest, and diet in later pregnancy, institutional delivery, early and exclusive breastfeeding, or care-seeking. The stillbirth rate was non-significantly lower in the intervention arm (odds ratio 0.86, 95% CI 0.60–1.22), and the neonatal mortality rate higher (1.48, 1.06–2.08). The extended perinatal mortality rate did not differ between arms (1.19, 0.90–1.57). We have no evidence that these differences could be explained by the intervention.
Conclusions
Facilitating urban community groups was feasible, and there was evidence of behaviour change, but we did not see population-level effects on health care or mortality. In cities with multiple sources of health care, but inequitable access to services, community mobilization should be integrated with attempts to deliver services for the poorest and most vulnerable, and with initiatives to improve quality of care in both public and private sectors.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN96256793
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Substantial progress is being made to reduce global child mortality (deaths of children before the age of 5 years) and maternal mortality (deaths among women because of complications of pregnancy and childbirth)—two of the Millennium Development Goals agreed by world leaders in 2000 to end extreme poverty. Even so, worldwide, in 2010, 7.6 million children died before their fifth birthday and there were nearly 360,000 maternal deaths. Almost all child and maternal deaths occur in developing countries—a fifth of under-five deaths and more than a quarter of neonatal deaths (deaths during the first month of life, which account for two-fifths of all child deaths) occur in India alone. Moreover, most child and maternal deaths are caused by avoidable conditions. Specifically, the major causes of neonatal death—complications of preterm delivery, breathing problems during or after delivery, and infections of the blood (sepsis) and lungs (pneumonia)—and of maternal deaths—hemorrhage (abnormal bleeding), sepsis, unsafe abortion, obstructed labor, and hypertensive diseases of pregnancy—could all be largely prevented by improved access to reproductive health services and skilled health care workers.
Why Was This Study Done?
Experts believe that improvements to maternal and newborn health in low-income settings require both health service strengthening and community action. That is, the demand for better services, driven by improved knowledge about maternal and newborn health (perinatal issues), has to be increased in parallel with the supply of those services. To date, community mobilization around perinatal issues has largely been undertaken in rural settings but populations in developing countries are becoming increasingly urban. In India, for example, 30% of the population now lives in cities. In this cluster randomized controlled trial (a study in which groups of people are randomly assigned to receive alternative interventions and the outcomes in the differently treated “clusters” are compared), City Initiative for Newborn Health (CINH) researchers investigate the effect of an intervention designed to help women's groups in the slums of Mumbai work towards improving local perinatal health. The CINH aims to improve maternal and newborn health in slum communities by improving public health care provision and by working with community members to improve maternal and newborn care practices and care-seeking behaviors.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers enrolled 48 Mumbai slum communities of at least 1,000 households into their trial. In each of the 24 intervention clusters, a facilitator supported local women's groups through a 36-meeting learning cycle during which group members discussed their perinatal experiences, improved their knowledge, and took action. To measure the effect of the intervention, the researchers monitored births, stillbirths, and neonatal deaths in all the clusters and interviewed mothers 6 weeks after delivery. During the 3-year trial, there were 18,197 births in the participating settlements. The women in the intervention clusters were enthusiastic about acquiring new knowledge and made substantial efforts to reach out to other women but were less successful in undertaking collective action such as negotiations with civic authorities for more amenities. There were no differences between the intervention and control communities in the uptake of antenatal care, reported work, rest, and diet in late pregnancy, institutional delivery, or in breast feeding and care-seeking behavior. Finally, the combined rate of stillbirths and neonatal deaths (the extended perinatal mortality rate) was the same in both arms of the trial, as was maternal mortality.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that it is possible to facilitate the discussion of perinatal health care by urban women's groups in the challenging conditions that exist in the slums of Mumbai. However, they fail to show any measureable effect of community mobilization through the facilitation of women's groups on perinatal health at the population level. The researchers acknowledge that more intensive community activities that target the poorest, most vulnerable slum dwellers might produce measurable effects on perinatal mortality, and they conclude that, in cities with multiple sources of health care and inequitable access to services, it remains important to integrate community mobilization with attempts to deliver services to the poorest and most vulnerable, and with initiatives to improve the quality of health care in both the public and private sector.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001257.
The United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) works for children's rights, survival, development, and protection around the world; it provides information on the reduction of child mortality (Millennium Development Goal 4); its Childinfo website provides information about all the Millennium Development Goals and detailed statistics about on child survival and health, newborn care, and maternal health (some information in several languages)
The World Health Organization also has information about Millennium Development Goal 4 and Millennium Development Goal 5, the reduction of maternal mortality, provides information on newborn infants, and provides estimates of child mortality rates (some information in several languages)
Further information about the Millennium Development Goals is available
Information on the City Initiative for Newborn Health and its partners and a detailed description of its trial of community mobilization in Mumbai slums to improve care during pregnancy, delivery, postnatally and for the newborn are available
Further information about the Society for Nutrition, Education and Health Action (SNEHA) is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001257
PMCID: PMC3389036  PMID: 22802737
3.  Women’s Reproductive Health in Slum Populations in India: Evidence From NFHS-3 
The urban population in India is one of the largest in the world. Its unprecedented growth has resulted in a large section of the population living in abject poverty in overcrowded slums. There have been limited efforts to capture the health of people in urban slums. In the present study, we have used data collected during the National Family Health Survey-3 to provide a national representation of women’s reproductive health in the slum population in India. We examined a sample of 4,827 women in the age group of 15–49 years to assess the association of the variable slum with selected reproductive health services. We have also tried to identify the sociodemographic factors that influence the utilization of these services among women in the slum communities. All analyses were stratified by slum/non-slum residence, and multivariate logistic regression was used to analyze the strength of association between key reproductive health services and relevant sociodemographic factors. We found that less than half of the women from the slum areas were currently using any contraceptive methods, and discontinuation rate was higher among these women. Sterilization was the most common method of contraception (25%). Use of contraceptives depended on the age, level of education, parity, and the knowledge of contraceptive methods (p < 0.05). There were significant differences in the two populations based on the timing and frequency of antenatal visits. The probability of ANC visits depended significantly on the level of education and economic status (p < 0.05). We found that among slum women, the proportion of deliveries conducted by skilled attendants was low, and the percentage of home deliveries was high. The use of skilled delivery care was found to be significantly associated with age, level of education, economic status, parity, and prior antenatal visits (p < 0.05). We found that women from slum areas depended on the government facilities for reproductive health services. Our findings suggest that significant differences in reproductive health outcomes exist among women from slum and non-slum communities in India. Efforts to progress towards the health MDGs and other national or international health targets may not be achieved without a focus on the urban slum population.
doi:10.1007/s11524-009-9421-0
PMCID: PMC2845837  PMID: 20148311
Slum; India; National Family Health Survey-3; Contraception; Antenatal care; Skilled delivery care
4.  Socio-economic factors explain differences in public health-related variables among women in Bangladesh: A cross-sectional study 
BMC Public Health  2008;8:254.
Background
Worldwide one billion people are living in slum communities and experts projected that this number would double by 2030. Slum populations, which are increasing at an alarming rate in Bangladesh mainly due to rural-urban migration, are often neglected and characterized by poverty, poor housing, overcrowding, poor environment, and high prevalence of communicable diseases. Unfortunately, comparisons between women living in slums and those not living in slums are very limited in Bangladesh. The objectives of the study were to examine the association of living in slums (dichotomized as slum versus non-slum) with selected public health-related variables among women, first without adjusting for the influence of other factors and then in the presence of socio-economic variables.
Methods
Secondary data was used in this study. 120 women living in slums (as cases) and 480 age-matched women living in other areas (as controls) were extracted from the Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey 2004. Many socio-economic and demographic variables were analysed. SPSS was used to perform simple as well as multiple analyses. P-values based on t-test and Wald test were also reported to show the significance level.
Results
Unadjusted results indicated that a significantly higher percent of women living in slums came from country side, had a poorer status by household characteristics, had less access to mass media, and had less education than women not living in slums. Mean BMI, knowledge of AIDS indicated by ever heard about AIDS, knowledge of avoiding AIDS by condom use, receiving adequate antenatal visits (4 or more) during the last pregnancy, and safe delivery practices assisted by skilled sources were significantly lower among women living in slums than those women living in other areas. However, all the unadjusted significant associations with the variable slum were greatly attenuated and became insignificant (expect safe delivery practices) when some socio-economic variables namely childhood place of residence, a composite variable of household characteristics, a composite variable of mass media access, and education were inserted into the multiple regression models. Taken together, childhood place of residence, the composite variable of mass media access, and education were the strongest predictors for the health related outcomes.
Conclusion
Reporting unadjusted findings of public health variables in women from slums versus non-slums can be misleading due to confounding factors. Our findings suggest that an association of childhood place of residence, mass media access and public health education should be considered before making any inference based on slum versus non-slum comparisons.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-8-254
PMCID: PMC2496908  PMID: 18651946
5.  Evaluation of Maternal Health Service Indicators in Urban Slum of Bangladesh 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(10):e0162825.
Background
A continuous influx of poor people to urban slums poses a challenge to Bangladesh’s health system as it has failed to tackle maternal morbidity and mortality. BRAC is the largest non-governmental organisation in Bangladesh. BRAC has been working to reduce maternal, neonatal and under-five children morbidity and mortality of slum dwellers in cities. BRAC has been doing this work for a decade through a programme called MANOSHI. This programme provides door-to-door services to its beneficiaries through community health workers (CHWs) and normal delivery service through its delivery and maternity centres. BRAC started the ‘MANOSHI’ programme in Narayanganj City Corporation during 2011 to address maternal, neonatal and child health problems facing slum dwellers. We investigated the existing maternal health-service indicators in the slums of Narayanganj City Corporation and compared the findings with a non-intervention area.
Methods
This cross-sectional study was conducted during 2012, in 47 slums of Narayanganj City Corporation as intervention and 10 slums of Narsingdi Sadar Municipality as comparison area. A total of 1206 married women, aged 15–49 years, with a pregnancy outcome in the previous year were included for interview. Data on socio-demographic characteristics, reproductive and maternal health-care practices like use of contraceptive methods, antenatal care (ANC), delivery care, postnatal care (PNC) were collected through a structured questionnaire. The chi-square test, Student t test, Mann Whitney U-test, factor analysis and log-binominal test were performed by using STATA statistical software for analysing data.
Results
The activities of BRAC CHWs significantly improved four or more ANC (47% vs. 21%; p<0.000) and PNC (48% vs. 39%; p<0.01) coverage in the intervention slums compared to comparison slums. Still, about half of the deliveries in both areas were attended at home by unskilled birth attendants, of which a very few received PNC within 48 hours after delivery. The poorest and illiterate women received fewer maternal health services from medically trained providers (MTPs). The poorest had a lower likelihood of receiving services from MTPs during delivery complications.
Conclusion
The MANOSHI programme service coverage for delivery care and PNC-checkup for women who prefer home delivery needs to be improved. For sustainable improvement of maternal health outcomes in urban slums, the programme needs to facilitate access to services for poor and illiterate women.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0162825
PMCID: PMC5061363  PMID: 27732596
6.  Contraceptive method choice among women in slum and non-slum communities in Nairobi, Kenya 
BMC Women's Health  2016;16:35.
Background
Understanding women’s contraceptive method choices is key to enhancing family planning services provision and programming. Currently however, very little research has addressed inter and intra-regional disparities in women’s contraceptive method choice. Using data from slum and non-slum contexts in Nairobi, Kenya, the current study investigates the prevalence of and factors associated with contraceptive method choice among women.
Methods
Data were from a cross-sectional quantitative study conducted among a random sample of 1,873 women (aged 15–49 years) in two non-slum and two slum settlement areas in Nairobi, Kenya. The study locations were purposively sampled by virtue of being part of the Nairobi Urban Health and Demographic Surveillance System. Bivariate and multivariate logistic regression were used to explore the association between the outcome variable, contraceptive method choice, and explanatory variables.
Results
The prevalence of contraceptive method choice was relatively similar across slum and non-slum settlements. 34.3 % of women in slum communities and 28.1 % of women in non-slum communities reported using short-term methods. Slightly more women living in the non-slum settlements reported use of long-term methods, 9.2 %, compared to 3.6 % in slum communities. Older women were less likely to use short-term methods than their younger counterparts but more likely to use long-term methods. Currently married women were more likely than never married women to use short-term and long-term methods. Compared to those with no children, women with three or more children were more likely to report using long term methods. Women working outside the home or those in formal employment also used modern methods of contraception more than those in self-employment or unemployed.
Conclusion
Use of short-term and long-term methods is generally low among women living in slum and non-slum contexts in Nairobi. Investments in increasing women’s access to various contraceptive options are urgently needed to help increase contraceptive prevalence rate. Thus, interventions that focus on more disadvantaged segments of the population will accelerate contraceptive uptake and improve maternal and child health in Kenya.
doi:10.1186/s12905-016-0314-6
PMCID: PMC4941019  PMID: 27405374
Contraceptive method choice; Contraceptive use; Slum; Non-slum; Urban poor; Nairobi; Kenya
7.  Prevalence and determinants of unintended pregnancy among women in Nairobi, Kenya 
Background
The prevalence of unintended pregnancy in Kenya continues to be high. The 2003 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS) showed that nearly 50% of unmarried women aged 15–19 and 45% of the married women reported their current pregnancies as mistimed or unwanted. The 2008–09 KDHS showed that 43% of married women in Kenya reported their current pregnancies were unintended. Unintended pregnancy is one of the most critical factors contributing to schoolgirl drop out in Kenya. Up to 13,000 Kenyan girls drop out of school every year as a result of unintended pregnancy. Unsafe pregnancy termination contributes immensely to maternal mortality which currently estimated at 488 deaths per 100 000 live births. In Kenya, the determinants of prevalence and determinants of unintended pregnancy among women in diverse social and economic situations, particularly in urban areas, are poorly understood due to lack of data. This paper addresses the prevalence and the determinants of unintended pregnancy among women in slum and non-slum settlements of Nairobi.
Methods
This study used the data that was collected among a random sample of 1262 slum and non-slum women aged 15–49 years in Nairobi. The data was analyzed using simple percentages and logistic regression.
Results
The study found that 24 percent of all the women had unintended pregnancy. The prevalence of unintended pregnancy was 21 per cent among women in slum settlements compared to 27 per cent among those in non-slum settlements. Marital status, employment status, ethnicity and type of settlement were significantly associated with unintended pregnancy. Logistic analysis results indicate that age, marital status and type of settlement had statistically significantly effects on unintended pregnancy. Young women aged 15–19 were significantly more likely than older women to experience unintended pregnancy. Similarly, unmarried women showed elevated risk for unintended pregnancy than ever-married women. Women in non-slum settlements were significantly more likely to experience unintended pregnancy than their counterparts in slum settlements.
The determinants of unintended pregnancy differed between women in each type of settlement. Among slum women, age, parity and marital status each had significant net effect on unintended pregnancy. But for non-slum women, it was marital status and ethnicity that had significant net effects.
Conclusion
The study found a high prevalence of unintended pregnancy among the study population and indicated that young and unmarried women, irrespective of their educational attainment and household wealth status, have a higher likelihood of experiencing unintended pregnancy. Except for the results on educational attainments and household wealth, these results compared well with the results reported in the literature.
The results indicate the need for effective programs and strategies to increase access to contraceptive services and related education, information and communication among the study population, particularly among the young and unmarried women. Increased access to family planning services is key to reducing unintended pregnancy among the study population. This calls for concerted efforts by all the stakeholders to improve access to family planning services among the study population. Increased access should be accompanied with improvement in the quality of care and availability of information about effective utilization of family planning methods.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-13-69
PMCID: PMC3607892  PMID: 23510090
Unintended pregnancy; Determinants; Slum; Non-slum settlements; Urban; Nairobi; Kenya
8.  Access To Essential Maternal Health Interventions and Human Rights Violations among Vulnerable Communities in Eastern Burma 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(12):e242.
Background
Health indicators are poor and human rights violations are widespread in eastern Burma. Reproductive and maternal health indicators have not been measured in this setting but are necessary as part of an evaluation of a multi-ethnic pilot project exploring strategies to increase access to essential maternal health interventions. The goal of this study is to estimate coverage of maternal health services prior to this project and associations between exposure to human rights violations and access to such services.
Methods and Findings
Selected communities in the Shan, Mon, Karen, and Karenni regions of eastern Burma that were accessible to community-based organizations operating from Thailand were surveyed to estimate coverage of reproductive, maternal, and family planning services, and to assess exposure to household-level human rights violations within the pilot-project target population. Two-stage cluster sampling surveys among ever-married women of reproductive age (15–45 y) documented access to essential antenatal care interventions, skilled attendance at birth, postnatal care, and family planning services. Mid-upper arm circumference, hemoglobin by color scale, and Plasmodium falciparum parasitemia by rapid diagnostic dipstick were measured. Exposure to human rights violations in the prior 12 mo was recorded. Between September 2006 and January 2007, 2,914 surveys were conducted. Eighty-eight percent of women reported a home delivery for their last pregnancy (within previous 5 y). Skilled attendance at birth (5.1%), any (39.3%) or ≥ 4 (16.7%) antenatal visits, use of an insecticide-treated bed net (21.6%), and receipt of iron supplements (11.8%) were low. At the time of the survey, more than 60% of women had hemoglobin level estimates ≤ 11.0 g/dl and 7.2% were Pf positive. Unmet need for contraceptives exceeded 60%. Violations of rights were widely reported: 32.1% of Karenni households reported forced labor and 10% of Karen households had been forced to move. Among Karen households, odds of anemia were 1.51 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.95–2.40) times higher among women reporting forced displacement, and 7.47 (95% CI 2.21–25.3) higher among those exposed to food security violations. The odds of receiving no antenatal care services were 5.94 (95% CI 2.23–15.8) times higher among those forcibly displaced.
Conclusions
Coverage of basic maternal health interventions is woefully inadequate in these selected populations and substantially lower than even the national estimates for Burma, among the lowest in the region. Considerable political, financial, and human resources are necessary to improve access to maternal health care in these communities.
Luke Mullany and colleagues examine access to essential maternal health interventions and human rights violations within vulnerable communities in eastern Burma.
Editors' Summary
Background.
After decades of military rule, Burma has one of the world's worst health-care systems and high levels of ill health. For example, maternal mortality (deaths among women from pregnancy-related causes) is around 360 per 100,000 live births in Burma, whereas in neighboring Thailand it is only 44 per 100,000 live births. Maternal health is even worse in the Shan, Karenni, Karen and Mon states in eastern Burma where ethnic conflicts and enforced village relocations have internally displaced more than half a million people. Here, maternal mortality is thought to be about 1000 per 100, 000 live births. In an effort to improve access to life-saving maternal health interventions in these states, Burmese community-based health organizations, the Johns Hopkins Center for Public Health and Human Rights and the Global Health Access Program in the USA, and the Mae Tao Clinic (a health-worker training center in Thailand) recently set up the Mobile Obstetric Maternal Health Workers (MOM) Project. In this pilot project, local health workers from 12 communities in eastern Burma received training in antenatal care, emergency obstetrics (the care of women during childbirth), blood transfusion, and family planning at the Mae Tao Clinic. Back in Burma, these maternal health workers trained additional local health workers and traditional birth attendants. All these individuals now provide maternal health care to their communities.
Why Was This Study Done?
The effectiveness of the MOM project can only be evaluated if accurate baseline information on women's access to maternal health-care services is available. This information is also needed to ensure the wise use of scarce health-care resources. However, very little is known about reproductive and maternal health in eastern Burma. In this study, the researchers analyze the information on women's access to reproductive and maternal health-care services that was collected during the initial field implementation stage of the MOM project. In addition, they analyze whether exposure to enforced village relocations and other human rights violations affect access to maternal health-care services.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Trained survey workers asked nearly 3000 ever-married women of reproductive age in the selected communities about their access to antenatal and postnatal care, skilled birth attendants, and family planning. They measured each woman's mid-upper arm circumference (an indicator of nutritional status) and tested them for anemia (iron deficiency) and infection with malaria parasites (a common cause of anemia in tropical countries). Finally, they asked the women about any recent violations of their human rights such as forced labour or relocation. Nearly 90% of the women reported a home delivery for their last baby. A skilled attendant was present at only one in 20 births and only one in three women had any antenatal care. One third of the women received postnatal care and only a third said they had access to effective contraceptives. Few women had received iron supplements or had used insecticide-treated bednets to avoid malaria-carrying mosquitos. Consequently, more than half the women were anemic and 7.2% were infected with malaria parasites. Many women also showed signs of poor nutrition. Finally, human rights violations were widely reported by the women. In Karen, the region containing most of the study communities, forced relocation tripled the risk of women developing anemia and greatly decreased their chances of receiving any antenatal care.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that access to maternal health-care interventions is extremely limited and that poor nutrition, anemia, and malaria, all of which increase the risk of pregnancy complications, are widespread in the communities in the MOM project. Because these communities had some basic health services and access to training in Thailand before the project started, these results probably underestimate the lack of access to maternal health-care services in eastern Burma. Nevertheless, it is clear that considerable political, financial, and human resources will be needed to improve maternal health in this region. Finally, the findings also reveal a link between human rights violations and reduced access to maternal health-care services. Thus, the scale of human rights violations will need to be considered when evaluating programs designed to improve maternal health in Burma and in other places where there is ongoing conflict.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050242.
This research article is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Macaya Douoguih
The World Health Organization provides information on all aspects of health in Burma (in several languages)
The Mae Tao Clinic also provides general information about Burma and its health services
More information about the MOM project is available in a previous publication by the researchers
The Burma Campaign UK and Human Rights Watch both provide detailed information about human rights violations in Burma
The United Nations Population Fund provides information about safe motherhood and ongoing efforts to save mothers' lives around the world
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050242
PMCID: PMC2605890  PMID: 19108601
9.  Beliefs and practices during pregnancy and childbirth in urban slums of Dhaka, Bangladesh 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:791.
Background
Worldwide urbanization has become a crucial issue in recent years. Bangladesh, one of the poorest and most densely-populated countries in the world, has been facing rapid urbanization. In urban areas, maternal indicators are generally worse in the slums than in the urban non-slum areas. The Manoshi program at BRAC, a non governmental organization, works to improve maternal, newborn, and child health in the urban slums of Bangladesh. This paper describes maternal related beliefs and practices in the urban slums of Dhaka and provides baseline information for the Manoshi program.
Methods
This is a descriptive study where data were collected using both quantitative and qualitative methods. The respondents for the quantitative methods, through a baseline survey using a probability sample, were mothers with infants (n = 672) living in the Manoshi program areas. Apart from this, as part of a formative research, thirty six in-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted during the same period from two of the above Manoshi program areas among currently pregnant women who had also previously given births (n = 18); and recently delivered women (n = 18).
Results
The baseline survey revealed that one quarter of the recently delivered women received at least four antenatal care visits and 24 percent women received at least one postnatal care visit. Eighty-five percent of deliveries took place at home and 58 percent of the deliveries were assisted by untrained traditional birth attendants. The women mostly relied on their landladies for information and support. Members of the slum community mainly used cheap, easily accessible and available informal sectors for seeking care. Cultural beliefs and practices also reinforced this behavior, including home delivery without skilled assistance.
Conclusions
Behavioral change messages are needed to increase the numbers of antenatal and postnatal care visits, improve birth preparedness, and encourage skilled attendance at delivery. Programs in the urban slum areas should also consider interventions to improve social support for key influential persons in the community, particularly landladies who serve as advisors and decision-makers.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-791
PMCID: PMC3532223  PMID: 22978705
Beliefs and practices; Maternal care; Urban-slum; Bangladesh
10.  Newborn care practices among slum dwellers in Dhaka, Bangladesh: a quantitative and qualitative exploratory study 
Background
Urbanization is occurring at a rapid pace, especially in low-income countries. Dhaka, Bangladesh, is estimated to grow to 50 million by 2015, with 21 million living in urban slums. Although health services are available, neonatal mortality is higher in slum areas than in urban non-slum areas. The Manoshi program works to improve maternal, newborn, and child health in urban slums in Bangladesh. This paper describes newborn care practices in urban slums in Dhaka and provides program recommendations.
Methods
A quantitative baseline survey was conducted in six urban slum areas to measure newborn care practices among recently delivered women (n = 1,256). Thirty-six in-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted to explore newborn care practices among currently pregnant women (n = 18) and women who had at least one delivery (n = 18).
Results
In the baseline survey, the majority of women gave birth at home (84%). Most women reported having knowledge about drying the baby (64%), wrapping the baby after birth (59%), and cord care (46%). In the in-depth interviews, almost all women reported using sterilized instruments to cut the cord. Babies are typically bathed soon after birth to purify them from the birth process. There was extensive care given to the umbilical cord including massage and/or applying substances, as well as a variety of practices to keep the baby warm. Exclusive breastfeeding was rare; most women reported first giving their babies sweet water, honey and/or other foods.
Conclusion
These reported newborn care practices are similar to those in rural areas of Bangladesh and to urban and rural areas in the South Asia region. There are several program implications. Educational messages to promote providing newborn care immediately after birth, using sterile thread, delaying bathing, and ensuring dry cord care and exclusive breastfeeding are needed. Programs in urban slum areas should also consider interventions to improve social support for women, especially first time mothers. These interventions may improve newborn survival and help achieve MDG4.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-9-54
PMCID: PMC2784437  PMID: 19919700
11.  "Who am I? Where am I?" Experiences of married young women in a slum in Islamabad, Pakistan 
BMC Public Health  2009;9:265.
Background
In Pakistan, 16% of the women aged 15–19 years are married. Many get married shortly after they attain menarche. This study explores the preparedness for and actual experiences of married life (inter-spousal relationship, sexual activity and pregnancy) among adolescent women.
Methods
Among married adolescent women residing in a slum of Islamabad ten were selected with the help of a community health worker and interviewed qualitatively till saturation was reached. They were interviewed three times at different occasions. Narrative structuring was used to explore how the participants represented their background, social situation, decision making and spousal communication and how they explained, understood and managed married life and bore children.
Results
Two categories identifying the respondents as either submissive-accepting or submissive-victims emerged. The married young women who belonged to the accepting group lived under compromised conditions but described themselves as satisfied with their situation. They were older than the other group identifying themselves as victims. However, none of the respondents felt prepared for marriage. Women belonging to the victimized group experienced physical and verbal abuse for their inability to cope with the duties of a wife, caretaker of the home and bearer of children. Their situation was compounded by the power dynamics within the household.
Conclusion
Knowledge about sexuality could prepare them better for the future life and give them more control of their fertility. Adolescent development and life skills education need to be addressed at a national level. There is need for innovative interventions to reach out and provide support to young women in disadvantaged homes.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-9-265
PMCID: PMC2724518  PMID: 19638190
12.  Knowledge and attitude towards child marriage practice among women married as children-a qualitative study in urban slums of Lahore, Pakistan 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:1148.
Background
Child marriage (<18 years) is prevalent in Pakistan which is associated with negative health outcomes. Our aim is to describe women’s knowledge and attitude towards child marriage practice who themselves were married as children.
Methods
Women of reproductive age (15–49 years) who were married prior to 18 years, for at least 5 years and had at least one child birth were recruited from most populous slum areas of Lahore, Pakistan. Themes for the interview were developed using published literature and everyday observations of the researchers. Interviews were conducted by trained interviewers in Urdu language and were translated into English. The interviews were tape-recorded, transcribed, analyzed and categorized into themes.
Results
Nineteen of 20 participants who agreed to participate were married between 11–17 years. Most respondents were uneducated, poor and were working as housemaids. The majority participants were unaware of the negative health outcomes of child marriages. They appeared satisfied by the decision of their parents of marrying them before 18 years, and even condemned banning child marriages in Pakistan. Strong influence of culture and community perceptions, varying interpretation of religion, and protecting family honor are some of the reasons that were narrated by the participants, which seems playing a role in continuation of child marriage practice in Pakistan.
Conclusion
Raising awareness of the negative health outcomes of child marriage, implementing and enforcing strict laws against child marriage practice, promoting civil, sexual and reproductive health rights for women, can help eliminate child marriages in Pakistan.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-1148
PMCID: PMC4289044  PMID: 25374265
Child marriage; Women; Honor; Culture; Knowledge; Attitude; Pakistan
13.  Influence of parental factors on adolescents’ transition to first sexual intercourse in Nairobi, Kenya: a longitudinal study 
Reproductive Health  2015;12:73.
Background
Several studies have demonstrated a link between young people’s sexual behavior and levels of parental monitoring, parent-child communication, and parental discipline in Western countries. However, little is known about this association in African settings, especially among young people living in high poverty settings such as urban slums. The objective of the study was to assess the influence of parental factors (monitoring, communication, and discipline) on the transition to first sexual intercourse among unmarried adolescents living in urban slums in Kenya.
Methods
Longitudinal data collected from young people living in two slums in Nairobi, Kenya were used. The sample was restricted to unmarried adolescents aged 12–19 years at Wave 1 (weighted n = 1927). Parental factors at Wave 1 were used to predict adolescents’ transition to first sexual intercourse by Wave 2. Relevant covariates including the adolescents’ age, sex, residence, school enrollment, religiosity, delinquency, and peer models for risk behavior were controlled for. Multivariate logistic regression models were used to assess the associations of interest. All analyses were conducted using Stata version 13.
Results
Approximately 6 % of our sample transitioned to first sexual intercourse within the one-year study period; there was no sex difference in the transition rate. In the multivariate analyses, male adolescents who reported communication with their mothers were less likely to transition to first sexual intercourse compared to those who did not (p < 0.05). This association persisted even after controlling for relevant covariates (OR: ≤0.33; p < 0.05). However, parental monitoring, discipline, and communication with their fathers did not predict transition to first sexual intercourse for male adolescents. For female adolescents, parental monitoring, discipline, and communication with fathers predicted transition to first sexual intercourse; however, only communication with fathers remained statistically significant after controlling for relevant covariates (OR: 0.30; 95 % C.I.: 0.13–0.68).
Conclusion
This study provides evidence that cross-gender communication with parents is associated with a delay in the onset of sexual intercourse among slum-dwelling adolescents. Targeted adolescent sexual and reproductive health programmatic interventions that include parents may have significant impacts on delaying sexual debut, and possibly reducing sexual risk behaviors, among young people in high-risk settings such as slums.
doi:10.1186/s12978-015-0069-9
PMCID: PMC4546127  PMID: 26293812
Parental monitoring; Parent-child communication; Parental discipline; Adolescents; Sexual debut; Urban slums
14.  The 2005 census and mapping of slums in Bangladesh: design, select results and application 
Background
The concentration of poverty and adverse environmental circumstances within slums, particularly those in the cities of developing countries, are an increasingly important concern for both public health policy initiatives and related programs in other sectors. However, there is a dearth of information on the population-level implications of slum life for human health. This manuscript describes the 2005 Census and Mapping of Slums (CMS), which used geographic information systems (GIS) tools and digital satellite imagery combined with more traditional fieldwork methodologies, to obtain detailed, up-to-date and new information about slum life in all slums of six major cities in Bangladesh (including Dhaka).
Results
The CMS found that Bangladeshi slums are very diverse: there are wide intra- and inter-city variations in population size, density, the percent of urban populations living in slums, and sanitation conditions. Findings also show that common beliefs about slums may be outdated; of note, tenure insecurity was found to be an issue in only a small minority of slums.
Conclusion
The methodology used in the 2005 Bangladesh CMS provides a useful approach to mapping slums that could be applied to urban areas in other low income societies. This methodology may become an increasingly important analytic tool to inform policy, as cities in developing countries are forecasted to continue increasing their share of total global population in the coming years, with slum populations more than doubling in size during the same period.
doi:10.1186/1476-072X-8-32
PMCID: PMC2701942  PMID: 19505333
15.  Influence of gender roles and rising food prices on poor, pregnant women’s eating and food provisioning practices in Dhaka, Bangladesh 
Reproductive Health  2013;10:53.
Background
Maternal malnutrition in Bangladesh is a persistent health issue and is the product of a number of complex factors, including adherence to food 'taboos’ and a patriarchal gender order that limits women’s mobility and decision-making. The recent global food price crisis is also negatively impacting poor pregnant women’s access to food. It is believed that those who are most acutely affected by rising food prices are the urban poor. While there is an abundance of useful quantitative research centered on maternal nutrition and food insecurity measurements in Bangladesh, missing is an understanding of how food insecurity is experienced by people who are most vulnerable, the urban ultra-poor. In particular, little is known of the lived experience of food insecurity among pregnant women in this context. This research investigated these lived experiences by exploring food provisioning strategies of urban, ultra-poor, pregnant women. This knowledge is important as discussions surrounding the creation of new development goals are currently underway.
Methods
Using a focused-ethnographic approach, household food provisioning experiences were explored. Data from participant observation, a focus group discussion and semi-structured interviews were collected in an urban slum in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Interviews were undertaken with 28 participants including 12 pregnant women and new mothers, two husbands, nine non-pregnant women, and five health care workers.
Results
The key findings are: 1) women were aware of the importance of good nutrition and demonstrated accurate, biomedically-based knowledge of healthy eating practices during pregnancy; 2) the normative gender rules that have traditionally constrained women’s access to nutritional resources are relaxing in the urban setting; however 3) women are challenged in accessing adequate quality and quantities of food due to the increase in food prices at the market.
Conclusions
Rising food prices and resultant food insecurity due to insufficient incomes are negating the recent efforts that have increased women’s knowledge of healthy eating during pregnancy and their gendered empowerment. In order to maintain the gains in nutritional knowledge and women’s increased mobility and decision-making capacity; policy must also consider the global political economy of food in the creation of the new development goals.
doi:10.1186/1742-4755-10-53
PMCID: PMC3849683  PMID: 24069937
Maternal malnutrition; Pregnancy; Gender; Women; Food insecurity; Urban; Ultra-poor; Bangladesh
16.  Family Planning Use among Urban Poor Women from Six Cities of Uttar Pradesh, India 
Family planning has widespread positive impacts for population health and well-being; contraceptive use not only decreases unintended pregnancies and reduces infant and maternal mortality and morbidity, but it is critical to the achievement of Millennium Development Goals. This study uses baseline, representative data from six cities in Uttar Pradesh, India to examine family planning use among the urban poor. Data were collected from about 3,000 currently married women in each city (Allahabad, Agra, Varanasi, Aligarh, Gorakhpur, and Moradabad) for a total sample size of 17,643 women. Participating women were asked about their fertility desires, family planning use, and reproductive health. The survey over-sampled slum residents; this permits in-depth analyses of the urban poor and their family planning use behaviors. Bivariate and multivariate analyses are used to examine the role of wealth and education on family planning use and unmet need for family planning. Across all of the cities, about 50% of women report modern method use. Women in slum areas generally report less family planning use and among those women who use, slum women are more likely to be sterilized than to use other methods, including condoms and hormonal methods. Across all cities, there is a higher unmet need for family planning to limit childbearing than for spacing births. Poorer women are more likely to have an unmet need than richer women in both the slum and non-slum samples; this effect is attenuated when education is included in the analysis. Programs seeking to target the urban poor in Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere in India may be better served to identify the less educated women and target these women with appropriate family planning messages and methods that meet their current and future fertility desire needs.
doi:10.1007/s11524-011-9667-1
PMCID: PMC3535138  PMID: 22399250
Slum; Uttar Pradesh; India; Family planning; Unmet need; Urban poor
17.  Circumstances leading to intimate partner violence against women married as children: a qualitative study in Urban Slums of Lahore, Pakistan 
Background
Child marriage (<18 years) is prevalent in Pakistan which is associated with negative health outcomes including intimate partner violence (IPV). Our aim is to describe the types and circumstances of IPV against women who were married as children in urban slums of Lahore, Pakistan.
Methods
Women of reproductive age (15–49 years) who were married prior to 18 years, for at least 5 years were recruited from most populous slum areas of Lahore, Pakistan. Themes for the interview guide were developed using published literature and everyday observations of the researchers. Interviews were conducted by trained interviewers in Urdu language and were translated into English. The interviews were tape-recorded, transcribed, analyzed and categorized into themes.
Results
All 19 participants were married between 11 and 17 years. Most respondents were uneducated, poor and were working as housemaids. Majority of participants experienced verbal abuse, and threatened, attempted and completed physical violence by their husbands. A sizeable number of women reported unwanted sexual encounters by their husbands. Family affairs particularly issues with in-laws, poor house management, lack of proper care of children, bringing insufficient dowry, financial problems, an act against the will of husband, and inability to give birth to a male child were some of the reasons narrated by the participants which led to IPV against women.
Conclusions
Women married as children are vulnerable to IPV. Concerted efforts are needed from all sectors of society including academia, public health experts, policy makers and civil society to end the child marriage practice in Pakistan.
doi:10.1186/s12914-015-0060-0
PMCID: PMC4549016  PMID: 26302901
18.  Adolescent pregnancies and girls' sexual and reproductive rights in the amazon basin of Ecuador: an analysis of providers' and policy makers' discourses 
Background
Adolescent pregnancies are a common phenomenon that can have both positive and negative consequences. The rights framework allows us to explore adolescent pregnancies not just as isolated events, but in relation to girls' sexual and reproductive freedom and their entitlement to a system of health protection that includes both health services and the so called social determinants of health. The aim of this study was to explore policy makers' and service providers' discourses concerning adolescent pregnancies, and discuss the consequences that those discourses have for the exercise of girls' sexual and reproductive rights' in the province of Orellana, located in the amazon basin of Ecuador.
Methods
We held six focus-group discussions and eleven in-depth interviews with 41 Orellana's service providers and policy makers. Interviews were transcribed and analyzed using discourse analysis, specifically looking for interpretative repertoires.
Results
Four interpretative repertoires emerged from the interviews. The first repertoire identified was "sex is not for fun" and reflected a moralistic construction of girls' sexual and reproductive health that emphasized abstinence, and sent contradictory messages regarding contraceptive use. The second repertoire -"gendered sexuality and parenthood"-constructed women as sexually uninterested and responsible mothers, while men were constructed as sexually driven and unreliable. The third repertoire was "professionalizing adolescent pregnancies" and lead to patronizing attitudes towards adolescents and disregard of the importance of non-medical expertise. The final repertoire -"idealization of traditional family"-constructed family as the proper space for the raising of adolescents while at the same time acknowledging that sexual abuse and violence within families was common.
Conclusions
Providers' and policy makers' repertoires determined the areas that the array of sexual and reproductive health services should include, leaving out the ones more prone to cause conflict and opposition, such as gender equality, abortion provision and welfare services for pregnant adolescents. Moralistic attitudes and sexism were present - even if divergences were also found-, limiting services' capability to promote girls' sexual and reproductive health and rights.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-10-12
PMCID: PMC2889876  PMID: 20525405
19.  Vulnerability to Food Insecurity in Urban Slums: Experiences from Nairobi, Kenya 
Food and nutrition security is critical for economic development due to the role of nutrition in healthy growth and human capital development. Slum residents, already grossly affected by chronic poverty, are highly vulnerable to different forms of shocks, including those arising from political instability. This study describes the food security situation among slum residents in Nairobi, with specific focus on vulnerability associated with the 2007/2008 postelection crisis in Kenya. The study from which the data is drawn was nested within the Nairobi Urban Health and Demographic Surveillance System (NUHDSS), which follows about 70,000 individuals from close to 30,000 households in two slums in Nairobi, Kenya. The study triangulates data from qualitative and quantitative sources. It uses qualitative data from 10 focus group discussions with community members and 12 key-informant interviews with community opinion leaders conducted in November 2010, and quantitative data involving about 3,000 households randomly sampled from the NUHDSS database in three rounds of data collection between March 2011 and January 2012. Food security was defined using the Household Food Insecurity Access Scale (HFIAS) criteria. The study found high prevalence of food insecurity; 85 % of the households were food insecure, with 50 % being severely food insecure. Factors associated with food security include level of income, source of livelihood, household size, dependence ratio; illness, perceived insecurity and slum of residence. The qualitative narratives highlighted household vulnerability to food insecurity as commonplace but critical during times of crisis. Respondents indicated that residents in the slums generally eat for bare survival, with little concern for quality. The narratives described heightened vulnerability during the 2007/2008 postelection violence in Kenya in the perception of slum residents. Prices of staple foods like maize flour doubled and simultaneously household purchasing power was eroded due to worsened unemployment situation. The use of negative coping strategies to address food insecurity such as reducing the number of meals, reducing food variety and quality, scavenging, and eating street foods was prevalent. In conclusion, this study describes the deeply intertwined nature of chronic poverty and acute crisis, and the subsequent high levels of food insecurity in urban slum settings. Households are extremely vulnerable to food insecurity; the situation worsening during periods of crisis in the perception of slum residents, engendering frequent use of negative coping strategies. Effective response to addressing vulnerability to household food insecurity among the urban poor should focus on both the underlying vulnerabilities of households due to chronic poverty and added impacts of acute crises.
doi:10.1007/s11524-014-9894-3
PMCID: PMC4242851  PMID: 25172616
Urban poor; Sub-Saharan Africa; Food security; Kenya; Crisis; Vulnerability
20.  Prevalence and correlates of smoking among urban adult men in Bangladesh: slum versus non-slum comparison 
BMC Public Health  2009;9:149.
Background
Smoking is one of the leading causes of premature death particularly in developing countries. The prevalence of smoking is high among the general male population in Bangladesh. Unfortunately smoking information including correlates of smoking in the cities especially in the urban slums is very scarce, although urbanization is rapid in Bangladesh and slums are growing quickly in its major cities. Therefore this study reported prevalences of cigarette and bidi smoking and their correlates separately by urban slums and non-slums in Bangladesh.
Methods
We used secondary data which was collected by the 2006 Urban Health Survey. The data were representative for the urban areas in Bangladesh. Both slums and non-slums located in the six City Corporations were considered. Slums in the cities were identified by two steps, first by using the satellite images and secondly by ground truthing. At the next stage, several clusters of households were selected by using proportional sampling. Then from each of the selected clusters, about 25 households were randomly selected. Information of a total of 12,155 adult men, aged 15–59 years, was analyzed by stratifying them into slum (= 6,488) and non-slum (= 5,667) groups. Simple frequency, bivariable and multivariable logistic regression analyses were performed using SPSS.
Results
Overall smoking prevalence for the total sample was 53.6% with significantly higher prevalences among men in slums (59.8%) than non-slums (46.4%). Respondents living in slums reported a significantly (P < 0.001) higher prevalence of smoking cigarettes (53.3%) as compared to those living in non-slums (44.6%). A similar pattern was found for bidis (slums = 11.4% and non-slums = 3.2%, P < 0.001). Multivariable logistic regression revealed significantly higher odds ratio (OR) of smoking cigarettes (OR = 1.12, 95% CI = 1.03–1.22), bidis (OR = 1.90, 95% CI = 1.58–2.29) and any of the two (OR = 1.23, 95% CI = 1.13–1.34) among men living in slums as compared to those living in non-slums when controlled for age, division, education, marital status, religion, birth place and types of work. Division, education and types of work were the common significant correlates for both cigarette and bidi smoking in slums and non-slums by multivariable logistic regressions. Other significant correlates of smoking cigarettes were marital status (both areas), birth place (slums), and religion (non-slums). Similarly significant factors for smoking bidis were age (both areas), marital status (slums), religion (non-slums), and birth place (both areas).
Conclusion
The men living in the urban slums reported higher rates of smoking cigarettes and bidis as compared to men living in the urban non-slums. Some of the significant correlates of smoking e.g. education and division should be considered for prevention activities. Our findings clearly underscore the necessity of interventions and preventions by policy makers, public health experts and other stakeholders in slums because smoking was more prevalent in the slum communities with detrimental health sequelae.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-9-149
PMCID: PMC2705350  PMID: 19463157
21.  What Influences Adolescent Girls’ Decision-Making Regarding Contraceptive Methods Use and Childbearing? A Qualitative Exploratory Study in Rangpur District, Bangladesh 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(6):e0157664.
Background
Bangladesh has the highest rate of adolescent pregnancy in South Asia. Child marriage is one of the leading causes of pregnancies among adolescent girls. Although the country’s contraceptive prevalence rate is quite satisfactory, only 52% of married adolescent girls use contraceptive methods. This qualitative study is aimed at exploring the factors that influence adolescent girls’ decision-making process in relation to contraceptive methods use and childbearing.
Methods and Results
We collected qualitative data from study participants living in Rangpur district, Bangladesh. We conducted 35 in-depth interviews with married adolescent girls, 4 key informant interviews, and one focus group discussion with community health workers. Adolescent girls showed very low decision-making autonomy towards contraceptive methods use and childbearing. Decisions were mainly made by either their husbands or mothers-in-law. When husbands were unemployed and financially dependent on their parents, then the mothers-in-law played most important role for contraceptive use and childbearing decisions. Lack of reproductive health knowledge, lack of negotiation and communication ability with husbands and family members, and mistrust towards contraceptive methods also appeared as influential factors against using contraception resulting in early childbearing among married adolescent girls.
Conclusions
Husbands and mothers-in-law of newly married adolescent girls need to be actively involved in health interventions so that they make more informed decisions regarding contraceptive use to delay pregnancies until 20 years of age. Misunderstanding and distrust regarding contraceptives can be diminished by engaging the wider societal actors in health intervention including neighbours, and other family members.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0157664
PMCID: PMC4919095  PMID: 27336673
22.  Disclosure and help seeking behavior of women exposed to physical spousal violence in Dhaka slums 
BMC Public Health  2016;16:383.
Background
Despite high prevalence of intimate partner violence (IPV) and its adverse social and health consequences, the rate of help seeking for IPV is generally low. Although the level of IPV is much higher in urban slums of Bangladesh, the level and nature of help seeking of the victims are unknown. This paper aims to address this gap in the literature.
Methods
Using a cross-sectional survey conducted between August 2011-February 2012, we explored disclosure of violence, help seeking behavior, and their correlates among randomly selected currently married women aged 15–29 in Dhaka slums (n = 2604).
Results
About 60 % of the currently married women reported past year spousal physical violence, but only 21 % disclosed and 19 % sought any help. High acceptance of violence was the main reason for not seeking help. Help was most commonly sought from informal sources (89 %). Any education, frequent and severe physical abuse, and presence of children increased the likelihood of disclosure and help seeking. Most survivors from slum who disclosed also sought help.
Conclusions
Despite widespread physical abuse, many survivors never sought help. Wide acceptance of violence hampering help seeking needs to be challenged. Increasing disclosure would also enhance help seeking. Awareness rising regarding rights of women to live a violence free life is essential. Although many services are available in the urban area, information about these services needs to be available to women. Promoting education is important in increasing both disclosure and service uptake.
doi:10.1186/s12889-016-3060-7
PMCID: PMC4862137  PMID: 27165579
Physical spousal violence; Disclosure; Help seeking behavior; Slum
23.  Experience of intimate partner violence among young pregnant women in urban slums of Kathmandu Valley, Nepal: a qualitative study 
BMC Women's Health  2016;16:11.
Background
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is an urgent public health priority. It is a neglected issue in women’s health, especially in urban slums in Nepal and globally. This study was designed to better understand the IPV experienced by young pregnant women in urban slums of the Kathmandu Valley, as well as to identify their coping strategies, care and support seeking behaviours. Womens’ views on ways to prevent IPV were also addressed.
Methods
20 young pregnant women from 13 urban slums in the Kathmandu valley were recruited purposively for this qualitative study, based on pre-defined criteria. In-depth interviews were conducted and transcribed, with qualitative content analysis used to analyse the transcripts.
Results
14 respondents were survivors of violence in urban slums. Their intimate partner(s) committed most of the violent acts. These young pregnant women were more likely to experience different forms of violence (psychological, physical and sexual) if they refused to have sex, gave birth to a girl, or if their husband had alcohol use disorder. The identification of foetal gender also increased the experience of physical violence at the prenatal stage. Interference from in-laws prevented further escalation of physical abuse. The most common coping strategy adopted to avoid violence among these women was to tolerate and accept the husbands’ abuse because of economic dependence. Violence survivors sought informal support from their close family members. Women suggested multiple short and long term actions to reduce intimate partner violence such as female education, economic independence of young women, banning identification of foetal gender during pregnancy and establishing separate institutions within their community to handle violence against young pregnant women.
Conclusions
Diversity in the design and implementation of culturally and socially acceptable interventions might be effective in addressing violence against young pregnant women in humanitarian settings such as urban slums. These include, but are not limited to, treatment of alcohol use disorder, raising men’s awareness about pregnancy, addressing young women’s economic vulnerability, emphasising the role of health care professionals in preventing adverse consequences resulting from gender selection technologies and working with family members of violence survivors.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12905-016-0293-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12905-016-0293-7
PMCID: PMC4779579  PMID: 26945755
Intimate partner violence; Young pregnant women; Urban slums; Qualitative interviews; Nepal
24.  Place of Residence Moderates the Risk of Infant Death in Kenya: Evidence from the Most Recent Census 2009 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(10):e0139545.
Background
Substantial progress has been made in reducing childhood mortality worldwide from 1990–2015 (Millennium Development Goal, target 4). Achieving target goals on this however remains a challenge in Sub-Saharan Africa. Kenya’s infant mortality rates are higher than the global average and are more pronounced in urban areas as compared to rural areas. Only limited knowledge exists about the differences in individual level risk factors for infant death among rural, non-slum urban, and slum areas in Kenya. Therefore, this paper aims at 1) assess individual and socio-ecological risk factors for infant death in Kenya, and at 2) identify whether living in rural, non-slum urban, or slum areas moderated individual or socio-ecological risk factors for infant death in Kenya.
Methodology
We used a cross-sectional study design based on the most recent Kenya Population and Housing Census of 2009 and extracted the records of all females who had their last child born in 12 months preceding the survey (N = 1,120,960). Multivariable regression analyses were used to identify risk factors that accounted for the risk of dying before the age of one at the individual level in Kenya. Place of residence (rural, non-slum urban, slum) was used as an interaction term to account for moderating effects in individual and socio-ecological risk factors.
Results
Individual characteristics of mothers and children (older age, less previously born children that died, better education, girl infants) and household contexts (better structural quality of housing, improved water and sanitation, married household head) were associated with lower risk for infant death in Kenya. Living in non-slum urban areas was associated with significantly lower infant death as compared to living in rural or slum areas, when all predictors were held at their reference levels. Moreover, place of residence was significantly moderating individual level predictors: As compared to rural areas, living in urban areas was a protective factor for mothers who had previous born children who died, and who were better educated. However, living in urban areas also reduced the health promoting effects of better structural quality of housing (i.e. poor or good versus non-durable). Furthermore, durable housing quality in urban areas turned out to be a risk factor for infant death as compared to rural areas. Living in slum areas was also a protective factor for mothers with previous child death, however it also reduced the promoting effects of older ages in mothers.
Conclusions
While urbanization and slum development continues in Kenya, public health interventions should invest in healthy environments that ideally would include improvements to access to safe water and sanitation, better structural quality of housing, and to access to education, health care, and family planning services, especially in urban slums and rural areas. In non-slum urban areas however, health education programs that target healthy diets and promote physical exercise may be an important adjunct to these structural interventions.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0139545
PMCID: PMC4599946  PMID: 26452226
25.  Unintended Pregnancies among Young Women Living in Urban Slums: Evidence from a Prospective Study in Nairobi City, Kenya 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e101034.
Background
Despite the significant proportion of young people residing in slum communities, little attention has been paid to the sexual and reproductive health (SRH) challenges they face during their transition to adulthood within this harsh environment. Little is known about the extent to which living in extreme environments, like slums, impact SRH outcomes, especially during this key developmental period. This paper aims to fill this research gap by examining the levels of and factors associated with unintended pregnancies among young women aged 15–22 in two informal settlements in Nairobi, Kenya.
Methods
We use data from two waves of a 3-year prospective survey that collected information from adolescents living in the two slums in 2007–2010. In total, 849 young women aged 15–22 were considered for analysis. We employed Cox and logistic regression models to investigate factors associated with timing of pregnancy experience and unintended pregnancy among adolescents who were sexually active by Wave 1 or Wave 2.
Findings
About two thirds of sexually experienced young women (69%) have ever been pregnant by Wave 2. For 41% of adolescents, the pregnancies were unintended, with 26% being mistimed and 15% unwanted. Multivariate analysis shows a significant association between a set of factors including age at first sex, schooling status, living arrangements and timing of pregnancy experience. In addition, marital status, schooling status, age at first sex and living arrangements are the only factors that are significantly associated with unintended pregnancy among the young women.
Conclusions
Overall, this study underscores the importance of looking at reproductive outcomes of early sexual initiation, the serious health risks early fertility entail, especially among out-of school girls, and sexual activity in general among young women living in slum settlements. This provides greater impetus for addressing reproductive behaviors among young women living in resource-poor settings such as slums.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0101034
PMCID: PMC4117474  PMID: 25080352

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