Myanmar/Burma has received increased development and humanitarian assistance since the election in November 2010. Monitoring the impact of foreign assistance and economic development on health and human rights requires knowledge of pre-election conditions.
From October 2008-January 2009, community-based organizations conducted household surveys using three-stage cluster sampling in Shan, Kayin, Bago, Kayah, Mon and Tanintharyi areas of Myanmar. Data was collected from 5,592 heads of household on household demographics, reproductive health, diarrhea, births, deaths, malaria, and acute malnutrition of children 6–59 months and women aged 15–49 years. A human rights focused survey module evaluated human rights violations (HRVs) experienced by household members during the previous year.
Estimated infant and under-five rates were 77 (95% CI 56 to 98) and 139 (95% CI 107 to 171) deaths per 1,000 live births; and the crude mortality rate was 13 (95% CI 11 to 15) deaths per thousand persons. The leading respondent-reported cause of death was malaria, followed by acute respiratory infection and diarrhea, causing 21.2% (95% CI 16.5 to 25.8), 16.6% (95% CI 11.8 to 21.4), and 12.3% (95% CI 8.7 to 15.8), respectively. Over a third of households suffered at least one human rights violation in the preceding year (36.2%; 30.7 to 41.7). Household exposure to forced labor increased risk of death among infants (rate ratio (RR) = 2.2; 95% CI 1.1 to 4.4) and children under five (RR = 2.1; 95% CI 1.3 to 3.6). The proportion of children suffering from moderate to severe acute malnutrition was higher among households that were displaced (prevalence ratio (PR) = 3.3; 95% CI 1.9 to 5.6).
Prior to the 2010 election, populations of eastern Myanmar experienced high rates of disease and death and high rates of HRVs. These population-based data provide a baseline that can be used to monitor national and international efforts to improve the health and human rights situation in the region.
Burma; Myanmar; Human Rights; Health; Mortality; Malaria
Timor-Leste is a young developing country in Asia. Most of its infrastructure was destroyed after a long armed conflict for independence. Despite recent expansion of health facilities and investment in healthcare, maternal mortality remains high with most mothers still giving birth at home. This study investigated factors affecting the non-utilisation of health service for childbirth in the aftermath of the independence conflict.
The Timor-Leste Demographic and Health Survey 2009-2010 was the latest two-stage national survey, which used validated questionnaires to obtain information from 26 clusters derived from 13 districts of the country. Factors influencing non-utilisation of health facility for childbirth were investigated using univariate and multivariable logistic regression analyses, accounting for the cluster sampling and sample weight of the survey.
Of the total 5986 participants included in the study, 4472 (74.8%) did not deliver their last child at a health facility. Lack of education for the mother (adjusted odds ratio (OR): 2.04; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.56 to 2.66) and her partner (OR: 1.45; 95% CI 1.14 to 1.84), low household wealth status (OR: 5.20; 95% CI 3.93 to 6.90), and rural residence (OR: 2.83; 95% CI 2.22 to 3.66), were associated with increased likelihood of non-utilisation of health facility for childbirth. Working mothers (OR: 1.55; 95% CI 1.32 to 1.81), who had high parity (OR: 1.78; 95% CI 1.36 to 2.32) and did not attend antenatal care service (OR: 4.68; 95% CI 2.65 to 8.28) were also vulnerable for not delivering at a health facility. Conversely, the prevalence of non-utilisation of health facility for childbirth reduced with increasing number of service components received during antenatal care visits (OR: 0.72; 95% CI 0.64 to 0.80).
Only a quarter of Timorese women delivered at a health facility. In order to reduce maternal mortality, future interventions should target disadvantaged mothers from poor families, those residing in rural areas, have higher parity but no education, and who seldom attend antenatal care service, by improving their utilisation of health facility for childbirth.
Facility-based childbirth; Home delivery; Maternal health services; Timor-Leste
Female Genital Cutting (FGC) anchored in a complex socio-cultural context becomes significant at the interface of access of health and social services in host countries. The practice of FGC at times, understood as a form of gender-based violence, may result in unjustifiable consequences among girls and women; yet, these practices are culturally engrained traditions with complex meanings calling for ethically and culturally sensitive health and social service provision. Intents and meanings of FGC practice need to be well understood before before any policies that criminalize and condemn are derived and implemented.
FGC is addressed as a global public health issue with complex legal and ethical dimensions which impacts ability to access services, far beyond gender sensitivity. The ethics of terminology are addressed, building on the sustained controversial debate in regards to the delicate issue of conceptualization. An overview of international policies is provided, identifying the current trend of condemnation of FGC practices. Socio-cultural and ethical challenges are discussed in light of selected findings from a community-based research project. The illustrative examples provided focus on Western countries, with a specific emphasis on Canada.
The examples provided converge with the literature confirming the utmost necessity to engage with the FGC practicing communities allowing for ethically sensitive strategies, reduction of harm in relation to systems of care, and prevention of the risk of systematic gendered stigmatization. A culturally competent, gender and ethically sensitive approach is argued for to ensure the provision of quality ethical care for migrant families in host countries. We argue that socio-cultural determinants such as ethnicity, migration, sex and gender need to be accounted for as integral to the social construction of FGC.
Working partnerships between the public health sector and community based organisations with a true involvement of women and men from practicing communities will allow for more sensitive and congruent clinical guidelines. In order to honour the fundamental principles and values of medical ethics, such as compassion, beneficence, non-malfeasance, respect, and justice and accountability, socio-cultural interactions at the interface of health and migration will continue to require proper attention. It entails a commitment to recognise the intrinsic value and dignity of girls’ and women’s context.
Female genital cutting; Female genital mutilation; Traditional practices; Migration; Public health; Ethics; Harm reduction; Community engagement; Cultural sensitivity
Infections account for up to a half of neonatal deaths in low income countries. The umbilicus is a common source of infection in such settings. This qualitative study investigates practices and perspectives related to umbilical cord care in Ethiopia.
In-depth interviews (IDI) were conducted in a district in each of the four most populous regions in the country: Oromia, Amhara, Tigray and Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region (SNNPR). In each district, one community was purposively selected; and in each study community, IDIs were conducted with 6 mothers, 4 grandmothers, 2 Traditional Birth Attendants and 2 Health Extension Workers (HEWs). The two main questions in the interview guide related to cord care were: How was the umbilical cord cut and tied? Was anything applied to the cord stump immediately after cutting/in the first 7 days? Why was it applied/not applied?
The study elucidates local cord care practices and the rational for these practices. Concepts underlying cord tying practices were how to stem blood flow and facilitate delivery of the placenta. Substances were applied on the cord to moisturize it, facilitate its separation and promote healing. Locally recognized cord problems were delayed healing, bleeding or swelling. Few respondents reported familiarity with redness of the cord - a sign of infection. Grandmothers, TBAs and HEWs were influential regarding cord care.
This study highlights local rationale for cord practices, concerns about cord related problems and recognition of signs of infection. Behavioral change messages aimed at improving cord care including cleansing with CHX should address these local perspectives. It is suggested that HEWs and health facility staff target mothers, grandmothers, TBAs and other community women with messages and counseling.
Umbilical cord care; Newborns; Infection; Ethiopia
Although the challenges of working with culturally and linguistically diverse groups can lead to the exclusion of some communities from research studies, cost effective strategies to encourage access and promote cross-cultural linkages between researchers and ethnic minority participants are essential to ensure their views are heard and their health needs identified. Using bilingual research assistants is one means to achieve this. In a study exploring alcohol and other drug service use by migrant women in Western Australia, bilingual workers were used to assist with participant recruitment and administration of a survey to 268 women who spoke more than 40 different languages.
Professional interpreters, bilingual students, bilingual overseas-trained health professionals and community sector bilingual workers were used throughout the research project. For the initial qualitative phase, professional interpreters were used to conduct interviews and focus group sessions, however scheduling conflicts, inflexibility, their inability to help with recruitment and the expense prompted exploration of alternative options for interview interpreting in the quantitative component of the study. Bilingual mature-age students on work placement and overseas-trained health professionals provided good entry into their different community networks and successfully recruited and interviewed participants, often in languages with limited interpreter access. Although both groups required training and supervision, overseas-trained health professionals often had existing research skills, as well as understanding of key issues such as confidentiality and referral processes. Strategies to minimise social desirability bias and the need to set boundaries were discussed during regular debriefing sessions. Having a number of workers recruiting participants also helped minimise the potential for selection bias. The practical and educational experience gained by the bilingual workers was regarded as capacity building and a potentially valuable community resource for future health research projects.
The use of bilingual workers was key to the feasibility and success of the project. The most successful outcomes occurred with students and overseas-trained health professionals who had good community networks for recruitment and the required linguistic skills. By describing the advantages and disadvantages encountered when working with bilingual workers, we offer practical insights to assist other researchers working with linguistically diverse groups.
Bilingual workers; Cross cultural research; Migrants; Refugees; Communication; Interpreting
Sub-Saharan Africa is home to approximately 55 million orphaned children. The growing orphan crisis has overwhelmed many communities and has weakened the ability of extended families to meet traditional care-taking expectations. Other models of care and support have emerged in sub-Saharan Africa to address the growing orphan crisis, yet there is a lack of information on these models available in the literature. We applied a human rights framework using the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child to understand what extent children’s basic human rights were being upheld in institutional vs. community- or family-based care settings in Uasin Gishu County, Kenya.
The Orphaned and Separated Children’s Assessments Related to their Health and Well-Being Project is a 5-year cohort of orphaned children and adolescents aged ≤18 year. This descriptive analysis was restricted to baseline data. Chi-Square test was used to test for associations between categorical /dichotomous variables. Fisher’s exact test was also used if some cells had expected value of less than 5.
Included in this analysis are data from 300 households, 19 Charitable Children’s Institutions (CCIs) and 7 community-based organizations. In total, 2871 children were enrolled and had baseline assessments done: 1390 in CCI’s and 1481 living in households in the community. We identified and described four broad models of care for orphaned and separated children, including: institutional care (sub-classified as ‘Pure CCI’ for those only providing residential care, ‘CCI-Plus’ for those providing both residential care and community-based supports to orphaned children , and ‘CCI-Shelter’ which are rescue, detention, or other short-term residential support), family-based care, community-based care and self-care. Children in institutional care (95%) were significantly (p < 0.0001) more likely to have their basic material needs met in comparison to those in family-based care (17%) and institutions were better able to provide an adequate standard of living.
Each model of care we identified has strengths and weaknesses. The orphan crisis in sub-Saharan Africa requires a diversity of care environments in order to meet the needs of children and uphold their rights. Family-based care plays an essential role; however, households require increased support to adequately care for children.
Orphans; Vulnerable children; Sub-saharan africa; Kenya; Street children; Children’s rights
Conditional cash transfer (CCT) programs provide poor families with cash conditional on investments in health and education. Brazil’s Bolsa Família program began in 2003 and is currently the largest CCT program in the world. This community-based study examines the impact of Bolsa Família on child health in a slum community in a large urban center.
In 2010, detailed household surveys were conducted with randomly selected Bolsa Família beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries in a Brazilian slum community of approximately 14,000 inhabitants in a large urban center. 567 families (with 1,266 children) were interviewed. Propensity score methods were used to control for differences between beneficiary and non-beneficiary children to estimate program impacts on health care utilization and health outcomes.
Bolsa Família has increased the odds of children’s visits to the health post for preventive services. In children under age seven, Bolsa Família was associated with increased odds for growth monitoring (OR = 3.1; 95% CI 1.9-5.1), vaccinations (OR = 2.8; 95% CI 1.4-5.4), and checkups (OR = 1.6; 95% CI 0.98-2.5), and with the number of growth monitoring visits (β = 0.6; p = 0.049) and checkups (β = 0.2; p = 0.068). There were positive spillover effects on older siblings (ages 7-17) no longer required to meet the health conditionalities. Bolsa Família increased their odds for growth monitoring (OR = 2.5; 95% CI 1.3-4.9) and checkups (OR = 1.7; 95% CI 0.9-3.2) and improved psychosocial health (β = 2.6; p = 0.007).
Bolsa Família has improved health care utilization, especially for services related to the health conditionalites, and there were positive spillover effects on older siblings. The findings of this study are promising, but they also suggest that further improvements in health may depend on the quality of health care services provided, the scope of services linked to the health conditionalities, and coordination with other social safety net programs.
The one-child policy introduced in China in 1979 has led to far-reaching changes in socio-demographic characteristics. Under this policy regime, each household has few children. This study aims to describe the prevalence of child neglect in one-child families in China and to examine the correlates of child neglect.
A cross-sectional study of 2044 children aged 6 to 9 years and recruited from four primary schools in Suzhou City, China was conducted. Neglect subtypes were determined using a validated indigenous measurement scale reported by parents. Child, parental and family characteristics were obtained by questionnaires and review of social security records. Linear regression analyses were performed to estimate the associations between these factors and the subtypes of child neglect.
The prevalence of child any neglect was 32.0% in one child families in Suzhou City, China. Supervisory (20.3%) neglect was the most prevalent type of child neglect, followed by emotional (15.2%), physical (11.1%), and educational (6.0%) neglect After simultaneous adjustment to child and family characteristics and the school factor, boys, children with physical health issues and cognitive impairment, younger and unemployed mother, were positively associated with neglect subtypes. We also found that parents with higher education and three-generation families were negatively associated with neglect.
The rates of child neglect subtypes vary across different regions in China probably due to the different policy implementation and socio-economic levels, with a lower level of physical and educational neglect and a higher level of emotional neglect in this study. The three-generation family structure was correlates of neglect which may be unique in one child families. This indicates that future intervention programs in one-child families should target these factors.
Child neglect; One-child policy; China
In India, approximately 49,000 women living with HIV become pregnant and deliver each year. While the government of India has made progress increasing the availability of prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) services, only about one quarter of pregnant women received an HIV test in 2010, and about one-in-five that were found positive for HIV received interventions to prevent vertical transmission of HIV.
Between February 2012 to March 2013, 14 HIV-positive women who had recently delivered a baby were recruited from HIV positive women support groups, Government of India Integrated Counseling and Testing Centers, and nongovernmental organizations in Mysore and Pune, India. In-depth interviews were conducted to examine their general experiences with antenatal healthcare; specific experiences around HIV counseling and testing; and perceptions about their care and follow-up treatment. Data were analyzed thematically using the human rights framework for HIV testing adopted by the United Nations and India’s National AIDS Control Organization.
While all of the HIV-positive women in the study received HIV and PMTCT services at a government hospital or antiretroviral therapy center, almost all reported attending a private clinic or hospital at some point in their pregnancy. According to the participants, HIV testing often occurred without consent; there was little privacy; breaches of confidentiality were commonplace; and denial of medical treatment occurred routinely. Among women living with HIV in this study, violations of their human rights occurred more commonly in private rather than public healthcare settings.
There is an urgent need for capacity building among private healthcare providers to improve standards of practice with regard to informed consent process, HIV testing, patient confidentiality, treatment, and referral of pregnant women living with HIV.
India; HIV testing; Antenatal care; Confidentiality; Diagnosis; Qualitative research; Perinatal transmission
Development policymakers and child-care service providers are committed to improving the educational opportunities of the 153 million orphans worldwide. Nevertheless, the relationship between orphanhood and education outcomes is not well understood. Varying factors associated with differential educational attainment leave policymakers uncertain where to intervene. This study examines the relationship between psychosocial well-being and cognitive development in a cohort of orphans and abandoned children (OAC) relative to non-OAC in five low and middle income countries (LMICs) to understand better what factors are associated with success in learning for these children.
Positive Outcomes for Orphans (POFO) is a longitudinal study, following a cohort of single and double OAC in institutional and community-based settings in five LMICs in Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa: Cambodia, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, and Tanzania. Employing two-stage random sampling survey methodology to identify representative samples of OAC in six sites, the POFO study aimed to better understand factors associated with child well-being. Using cross-sectional and child-level fixed effects regression analyses on 1,480 community based OAC and a comparison sample of non-OAC, this manuscript examines associations between emotional difficulties, cognitive development, and a variety of possible co-factors, including potentially traumatic events.
The most salient finding is that increases in emotional difficulties are associated with lags in cognitive development for two separate measures of learning within and across multiple study sites. Exposure to potentially traumatic events, male gender, and lower socio-economic status are associated with more reported emotional difficultiesin some sites. Being female and having an illiterate caregiver is associated with lower performance on cognitive development tests in some sites, while greater wealth is associated with higher performance. There is no significant association between orphan status per se and cognitive development, though the negative and significant association between higher emotional difficulties and lags in cognitive development hold across all orphan subgroups.
These findings suggest that interventions targeting psychosocial support for vulnerable children, especially vis a vis traumatic experiences, may ease strains inhibiting a child’s learning. Family based interventions to stabilize socioeconomic conditions may help overcome psychosocial challenges that otherwise would present as barriers to the child’s learning.
Orphans; Education; Trauma; Emotional difficulties; Cognition; POFO
Inequality in health services access and utilization are influenced by out-of-pocket health expenditures in many low and middle-income countries (LMICs). Various antecedents such as social factors, poor health and economic factors are proposed to direct the choice of health care service use and incurring out-of-pocket payments. We investigated the association of these factors with out-of-pocket health expenditures among the adult and older population in the United Republic of Tanzania. We also investigated the prevalence and associated determinants contributing to household catastrophic health expenditures.
We accessed the data of a multistage stratified random sample of 7279 adult participants, aged between 18 and 59 years, as well as 1018 participants aged above 60 years, from the first round of the Tanzania National Panel survey. We employed multiple generalized linear and logistic regression models to evaluate the correlates of out-of-pocket as well as catastrophic health expenditures, accounting for the complex sample design effects.
Increasing age, female gender, obesity and functional disability increased the adults’ out-of-pocket health expenditures significantly, while functional disability and visits to traditional healers increased the out-of-pocket health expenditures in older participants. Adult participants, who lacked formal education or worked as manual laborers earned significantly less (p < 0.001) and spent less on health (p < 0.001), despite having higher levels of disability. Large household size, household head’s occupation as a manual laborer, household member with chronic illness, domestic violence against women and traditional healer’s visits were significantly associated with high catastrophic health expenditures.
We observed that the prevalence of inequalities in socioeconomic factors played a significant role in determining the nature of both out-of-pocket and catastrophic health expenditures. We propose that investment in social welfare programs and strengthening the social security mechanisms could reduce the financial burden in United Republic of Tanzania.
Tanzania; Catastrophic expenditures; Out-of-pocket payments; Traditional healers
The global response to HIV suggests the potential of an emergent global right to health norm, embracing shared global responsibility for health, to assist policy communities in framing the obligations of the domestic state and the international community. Our research explores the extent to which this global right to health norm has influenced the global policy process around maternal health rights, with a focus on universal access to emergency obstetric care.
In examining the extent to which arguments stemming from a global right to health norm have been successful in advancing international policy on universal access to emergency obstetric care, we looked at the period from 1985 to 2013 period. We adopted a qualitative case study approach applying a process-tracing methodology using multiple data sources, including an extensive literature review and limited key informant interviews to analyse the international policy agenda setting process surrounding maternal health rights, focusing on emergency obstetric care. We applied John Kingdon's public policy agenda setting streams model to analyse our data.
Kingdon’s model suggests that to succeed as a mobilising norm, the right to health could work if it can help bring the problem, policy and political streams together, as it did with access to AIDS treatment. Our analysis suggests that despite a normative grounding in the right to health, prioritisation of the specific maternal health entitlements remains fragmented.
Despite United Nations recognition of maternal mortality as a human rights issue, the relevant policy communities have not yet managed to shift the policy agenda to prioritise the global right to health norm of shared responsibility for realising access to emergency obstetric care. The experience of HIV advocates in pushing for global solutions based on right to health principles, including participation, solidarity and accountability; suggest potential avenues for utilising right to health based arguments to push for policy priority for universal access to emergency obstetric care in the post-2015 global agenda.
The present Millennium Development Goals are set to expire in 2015 and their next iteration is now being discussed within the international community. With regards to health, the World Health Organization proposes universal health coverage as a ‘single overarching health goal’ for the next iteration of the Millennium Development Goals.
The present Millennium Development Goals have been criticised for being ‘duplicative’ or even ‘competing alternatives’ to international human rights law. The question then arises, if universal health coverage would indeed become the single overarching health goal, replacing the present health-related Millennium Development Goals, would that be more consistent with the right to health? The World Health Organization seems to have anticipated the question, as it labels universal health coverage as “by definition, a practical expression of the concern for health equity and the right to health”.
Rather than waiting for the negotiations to unfold, we thought it would be useful to verify this contention, using a comparative normative analysis. We found that – to be a practical expression of the right to health – at least one element is missing in present authoritative definitions of universal health coverage: a straightforward confirmation that international assistance is essential, not optional.
But universal health coverage is a ‘work in progress’. A recent proposal by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network proposed universal health coverage with a set of targets, including a target for international assistance, which would turn universal health coverage into a practical expression of the right to health care.
Millennium development goals; Universal health coverage; Right to health
Public stigma against family members of people with mental illness is a negative attitude by the public which blame family members for the mental illness of their relatives. Family stigma can result in self social restrictions, delay in treatment seeking and poor quality of life. This study aimed at investigating the degree and correlates of family stigma.
A quantitative cross-sectional house to house survey was conducted among 845 randomly selected urban and rural community members in the Gilgel Gibe Field Research Center, Southwest Ethiopia. An interviewer administered and pre-tested questionnaire adapted from other studies was used to measure the degree of family stigma and to determine its correlates. Data entry was done by using EPI-DATA and the analysis was performed using STATA software. Unadjusted and adjusted linear regression analysis was done to identify the correlates of family stigma.
Among the total 845 respondents, 81.18% were female. On a range of 1 to 5 score, the mean family stigma score was 2.16 (±0.49). In a multivariate analysis, rural residents had significantly higher stigma scores (std. β = 0.43, P < 0.001) than urban residents. As the number of perceived signs (std. β = -0.07, P < 0.05), perceived supernatural (std. β = -0.12, P < 0.01) and psychosocial and biological (std. β = -0.11, P < 0.01) explanations of mental illness increased, the stigma scores decreased significantly. High supernatural explanation of mental illness was significantly correlated with lower stigma among individuals with lower level of exposure to people with mental illness (PWMI). On the other hand, high exposure to PWMI was significantly associated with lower stigma among respondents who had high education. Stigma scores increased with increasing income among respondents who had lower educational status.
Our findings revealed moderate level of family stigma. Place of residence, perceived signs and explanations of mental illness were independent correlates of public stigma against family members of people with mental illness. Therefore, mental health communication programs to inform explanations and signs of mental illness need to be implemented.
Stigma; Mental illness; Family stigma; Psublic stigma
The editors of BMC International Health and Human Rights would like to thank all our reviewers who have contributed their time to the journal in Volume 13 (2013).
Skilled birth attendants (SBAs) provide important interventions that improve maternal and neonatal health and reduce maternal and neonatal mortality. However, utilization and coverage of services by SBAs remain poor, especially in rural and remote areas of Nepal. This study examined the characteristics associated with utilization of SBA services in mid- and far-western Nepal.
This cross-sectional study examined three rural and remote districts of mid- and far-western Nepal (i.e., Kanchanpur, Dailekh and Bajhang), representing three ecological zones (southern plains [Tarai], hill and mountain, respectively) with low utilization of services by SBAs. Enumerators assisted a total of 2,481 women. All respondents had delivered a baby within the past 12 months. We used bivariate and multivariate analyses to assess the association between antenatal and delivery care visits and the women’s background characteristics.
Fifty-seven percent of study participants had completed at least four antenatal care visits and 48% delivered their babies with the assistance of SBAs. Knowing the danger signs of pregnancy and delivery (e.g., premature labor, prolonged labor, breech delivery, postpartum hemorrhage, severe headache) associated positively with four or more antenatal care visits (OR = 1.71; 95% CI: 1.41-2.07). Living less than 30 min from a health facility associated positively with increased use of both antenatal care (OR = 1.44; 95% CI: 1.18-1.77) and delivery services (OR = 1.25; CI: 1.03-1.52). Four or more antenatal care visits was a determining factor for the utilization of SBAs.
Less than half of the women in our study delivered babies with the aid of SBAs, indicating a need to increase utilization of such services in rural and remote areas of Nepal. Distance from health facilities and inadequate transportation pose major barriers to the utilization of SBAs. Providing women with transportation funds before they go to a facility for delivery and managing transportation options will increase service utilization. Moreover, SBA utilization associates positively with women’s knowledge of pregnancy danger signs, wealth quintile, and completed antenatal care visits. Nepal’s health system must develop strategies that generate demand for SBAs and also reduce financial, geographic and cultural barriers to such services.
Antenatal care; Delivery care; Utilization; Skilled birth attendant; Barrier; Nepal
Global health institutions increasingly recognize that the right to health should guide the formulation of replacement goals for the Millennium Development Goals, which expire in 2015. However, the right to health’s contribution is undercut by the principle of progressive realization, which links provision of health services to available resources, permitting states to deny even basic levels of health coverage domestically and allowing international assistance for health to remain entirely discretionary.
To prevent progressive realization from undermining both domestic and international responsibilities towards health, international human rights law institutions developed the idea of non-derogable “minimum core” obligations to provide essential health services. While minimum core obligations have enjoyed some uptake in human rights practice and scholarship, their definition in international law fails to specify which health services should fall within their scope, or to specify wealthy country obligations to assist poorer countries. These definitional gaps undercut the capacity of minimum core obligations to protect essential health needs against inaction, austerity and illegitimate trade-offs in both domestic and global action. If the right to health is to effectively advance essential global health needs in these contexts, weaknesses within the minimum core concept must be resolved through innovative research on social, political and legal conceptualizations of essential health needs.
We believe that if the minimum core concept is strengthened in these ways, it will produce a more feasible and grounded conception of legally prioritized health needs that could assist in advancing health equity, including by providing a framework rooted in legal obligations to guide the formulation of new health development goals, providing a baseline of essential health services to be protected as a matter of right against governmental claims of scarcity and inadequate international assistance, and empowering civil society to claim fulfillment of their essential health needs from domestic and global decision-makers.
Human rights; Right to health; Minimum core obligations; Millennium development goals; Post-2015 health development agenda; Global health; Equity
The effects of malnutrition on health status and survival of children has been the subject of extensive research for several decades. Malnutrition affects physical growth, cognitive development of children, morbidity and mortality. The current study was an exploratory survey that focused on factors affecting feeding of nursery school children as perceived by their mothers in a rural setting in Usigu Division of Bondo County, Kenya.
The sampling frame was mothers whose children were in Kanyibok, Sanda and Usenge nursery schools. Purposive sampling methods were used to draw a total of 108 respondents. In a logistic regression model, bad management of feeding was the dependent variable while factors perceived to affect management of feeding were the independent variables.
Married mothers were more likely to manage good feeding practices (OR, 0.34, 95% CI, 0.21-0.76; P = 0.022) relative to those who were single or widowed. Additional analyses showed that low education levels (OR, 7.33, 95% CI, 3.37-12.91; P = 0.023), younger mothers (OR, 6.04, 95% CI, 3.22-9.68; P = 0.029) and mothers engaged in business (OR, 4.02, 95% CI, 2.11-7.85; P = 0.027) increased their likelihood of not feeding the pre-school children. Majority of the children who ate the main meals in other houses belonged to young mothers in the age category of 15–29 years. Further analyses demonstrated that if the order of serving food was to the children first, then they had high likelihood of having good feeding relative to when the father was served first (OR, 0.22, 95% CI, 0.14-0.61; P = 0.011).
Based on these findings, there is an urgent need for sensitization of the mothers on the management of feeding of these pre-school children in Bondo County. It is hoped that relevant interventions would then be designed with the view of managing children feeding in such rural settings as in Bondo County in Kenya.
Feeding practices; Children; Mothers; Rural Bondo
Gender-based violence against women, including intimate partner violence (IPV), is a pervasive health and human rights concern. However, relatively little intervention research has been conducted on how to reduce IPV in settings impacted by conflict. The current study reports on the evaluation of the incremental impact of adding “gender dialogue groups” to an economic empowerment group savings program on levels of IPV. This study took place in north and northwestern rural Côte d’Ivoire.
Between 2010 and 2012, we conducted a two-armed, non-blinded randomized-controlled trial (RCT) comparing group savings only (control) to “gender dialogue groups” added to group savings (treatment). The gender dialogue group consisted of eight sessions that targeted women and their male partner. Eligible Ivorian women (18+ years, no prior experience with group savings) were invited to participate. 934 out of 981 (95.2%) partnered women completed baseline and endline data collection. The primary trial outcome measure was an overall measure of past-year physical and/or sexual IPV. Past year physical IPV, sexual IPV, and economic abuse were also separately assessed, as were attitudes towards justification of wife beating and a woman’s ability to refuse sex with her husband.
Intent to treat analyses revealed that compared to groups savings alone, the addition of gender dialogue groups resulted in a slightly lower odds of reporting past year physical and/or sexual IPV (OR: 0.92; 95% CI: 0.58, 1.47; not statistically significant). Reductions in reporting of physical IPV and sexual IPV were also observed (not statistically significant). Women in the treatment group were significantly less likely to report economic abuse than control group counterparts (OR = 0.39; 95% CI: 0.25, 0.60, p < .0001). Acceptance of wife beating was significantly reduced among the treatment group (β = -0.97; 95% CI: -1.67, -0.28, p = 0.006), while attitudes towards refusal of sex did not significantly change Per protocol analysis suggests that compared to control women, treatment women attending more than 75% of intervention sessions with their male partner were less likely to report physical IPV (a OR: 0.45; 95% CI: 0.21, 0.94; p = .04) and report fewer justifications for wife beating (adjusted β = -1.14; 95% CI: -2.01, -0.28, p = 0.01) ; and both low and high adherent women reported significantly decreased economic abuse (a OR: 0.31; 95% CI: 0.18, 0.52, p < 0.0001; a OR: 0.47; 95% CI: 0.27, 0.81, p = 01, respectively). No significant reductions were observed for physical and/or sexual IPV, or sexual IPV alone.
Results from this pilot RCT suggest the importance of addressing household gender inequities alongside economic programming, because this type of combined intervention has potential to reduce levels of IPV. Additional large-scale intervention research is needed to replicate these findings.
Registration Number: NCT01629472.
Gender-based violence; Randomized controlled trial; West Africa; Economic empowerment; Evaluation
In a context of inadequate human resources for health, this study investigated whether traditional healers have the knowledge and skill base which could be utilised to assist in the scaling up of HIV prevention and treatment services in South Africa.
Using a cross-sectional research design a total of 186 traditional healers from the Northern Cape province were interviewed. Responses on the following topics were obtained: socio-demographic characteristics; HIV training, experience and practices; and knowledge of HIV transmission, prevention and symptoms. Descriptive statistics and chi square tests were used to analyse the responses.
Traditional healers’ knowledge of HIV and AIDS was not as high as expected. Less than 50% of both trained and untrained traditional healers would treat a person they suspected of being HIV positive. However, a total of 167 (89%) respondents agreed using a condom can prevent HIV and a majority of respondents also agreed that having one sexual partner (127, 68.8%) and abstaining from sex can prevent HIV (145, 78.8%). Knowledge of treatment practices was better with statistically significant results being obtained.
The results indicate that traditional healers could be used for prevention as well as referring HIV positive individuals for treatment. Traditional healers were enthusiastic about the possibility of collaborating with bio-medical practitioners in the prevention and care of HIV and AIDS patients. This is significant considering they already service the health needs of a large percentage of the South African population. However, further development of training programmes and materials for them on HIV and AIDS related issues would seem necessary.
Traditional healers; HIV and AIDS; HIV knowledge; South Africa
Recent trials in Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan have shown that chlorhexidine is an effective antiseptic for umbilical cord care compared to existing community-based cord care practices. Because of the aggregate reduction in neonatal mortality in these trials, interest is high in introducing a 7.1% chlorhexidine digluconate liquid or gel that delivers 4% chlorhexidine for umbilical cord care in Bangladesh and elsewhere.
In 2010, we conducted a household survey applying a contingent valuation method with 1717 eligible couples (pregnant women or women with a first child younger than 6 months old, and their husbands) in the rural subdistricts of Abhoynagar and Mirsarai in Bangladesh to assess their willingness to pay for three types of umbilical cord care products at different price points. Each respondent was asked about willingness to pay prefixed prices for any one of three 7.1% chlorhexidine digluconate products: 1) a single-dose liquid, 2) a multi-dose liquid, or 3) a gel formulation. Each also reported the maximum price they were independently willing to pay for their selected product. We compared participant willingness-to-pay responses to the prefixed prices with their independently reported maximum prices for each type of the product separately. The comparison identified to what extent the respondents’ positive responses to the prefixed prices matched their independently reported maximum prices.
This cross matching revealed that willingness to pay the prefixed prices was 41% for the single-dose liquid, 33% for the multi-dose liquid, and 31% for the gel formulation. Although the majority of the respondents were unwilling to pay the prefixed prices, all were willing to pay some amount and reported they could borrow money if necessary. Subsequent analysis of responses to the multi-dose liquid showed borrowing money would not be required if the unit price was Bangladeshi taka 15–25.
A unit price of Bangladeshi taka 15–25 (US$0.21–0.35) for multi-dose 7.1% chlorhexidine digluconate liquid would be affordable to the primary target population in Bangladesh. Although a large market demand could be generated if the product were available at this price point, subsidization may be required to achieve optimal coverage, especially among poorer families.
Chlorhexidine; Umbilical cord infection; Umbilical cord care; Willingness to pay; Bangladesh; Neonatal mortality; Contingency valuation
In Morocco, the social and legal framework surrounding sexual and reproductive health has transformed greatly in the past decade, especially with the introduction of the new Family Law or Moudawana. Yet, despite raising the minimum age of marriage for girls and stipulating equal rights in the family, child and forced marriage is widespread. The objective of this research study was to explore perspectives of a broad range of professionals on factors that contribute to the occurrence of child and forced marriage in Morocco.
A qualitative approach was used to generate both primary and secondary data for the analysis. Primary data consist of individual semi-structured interviews that were conducted with 22 professionals from various sectors: health, legal, education, NGO’s and government. Sources of secondary data include academic papers, government and NGO reports, various legal documents and media reports. Data were analyzed using thematic qualitative analysis.
Four major themes arose from the data, indicating that the following elements contribute to child and forced marriage: (1) the legal and social divergence in conceptualizing forced and child marriage; (2) the impact of legislation; (3) the role of education; and (4) the economic factor. Emphasis was especially placed on the new Family Code or Moudawana as having the greatest influence on advancement of women's rights in the sphere of marriage. However, participants pointed out that embedded patriarchal attitudes and behaviours limit its effectiveness.
The study provided a comprehensive understanding of the factors that compound the problem of child and forced marriage in Morocco. From the viewpoint of professionals, who are closely involved in tackling the issue, policy measures and the law have the greatest potential to bring child and forced marriage to a halt. However, the implementation of new legal tools is facing barriers and resistance. Additionally, the legal and policy framework should go hand in hand with both education and increased economic opportunities. Education and awareness-raising of all ages is considered essential, seeing that parents and the extended family play a huge role in marrying off girls and young women.
Child and forced marriage; Morocco; Women’s rights; Sexual and reproductive health; Violence
Tribal people in India, as in other parts of the world, reside mostly in forests and/or hilly terrains. Water scarcity and health problems related to it are their prime concern. Watershed management can contribute to resolve their health related problems and can put them on a path of socio-economic development. Integrated management of land, water and biomass resources within a watershed, i.e. in an area or a region which contributes rainfall water to a river or lake, is referred to as watershed management. Watershed management includes soil and water conservation to create water resources, management of drinking water, improving hygiene and sanitation, plantation of trees, improving agriculture, formation of self-help groups and proper utilisation and management of available natural resources. For successful implementation of such a solution, understanding of perceptions of the tribal community members with regard to public health and socioeconomic implications of watershed management is essential.
A qualitative study with six focus group discussions (FGDs), three each separately for men and women, was conducted among tribal community members of the Maharashtra state of India. The data collected from the FGDs were analyzed using manifest and latent content analysis.
“Improvement in health and empowerment of families as a result of watershed management” was identified as the main theme. Participants perceived that their health problems and socio-economic development are directly and/or indirectly dependent upon water availability. They further perceived that watershed management could directly or indirectly result in reduction of their public health related challenges like waterborne diseases, seasonal migration, alcoholism, intimate partner violence, as well as drudgery of women and may enhance overall empowerment of families through agricultural development.
Tribal people perceived that water scarcity is the main reason for their physical, mental and social health problems and a major obstacle for their overall development. The perceptions of tribal participants indicate that infectious diseases, migration, alcoholism, intimate partner violence and drudgery of women are end results of water scarcity and efforts to increase water availability through watershed management may help them to achieve their right to health which is embedded in their right to access to water.
Public health; Watershed management; Perceptions; Tribal; Empowerment
Under the National Rural Health Mission, the current emphasis is on achieving universal institutional births through incentive schemes as part of reforms related to childbirth in India. There has been rapid progress in achieving this goal. To understand the choices made as well as practices and perceptions related to childbirth amongst tribal women in Gujarat and how these have been influenced by modernity in general and modernity brought in through maternal health policies.
A model depicting the transition in childbirth practices amongst tribal women was constructed using the grounded theory approach with; 8 focus groups of women, 5 in depth interviews with traditional birth attendants, women, and service providers and field notes on informal discussions and observations.
A transition in childbirth practices across generations was noted, i.e. a shift from home births attended by Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) to hospital births. The women and their families both adapted to and shaped this transition through a constant ’trade-off between desirable and essential’- the desirable being a traditional homebirth in secure surroundings and the essential being the survival of mother and baby by going to hospital. This transition was shaped by complex multiple factors: 1) Overall economic growth and access to modern medical care influencing women’s choices, 2) External context in terms of the international maternal health discourses and national policies, especially incentive schemes for promoting institutional deliveries, 3) Socialisation into medical childbirth practices, through exposure to many years of free outreach services for maternal and child health, 4) Loss of self reliance in the community as a consequence of role redefinition and deskilling of the TBAs and 5) Cultural belief that intervention is necessary during childbirth aiding easy acceptance of medical interventions.
In resource poor settings where choices are limited and mortality is high, hospital births are perceived as increasing the choices for women, saving lives of mothers and babies, though there is a need for region specific strategies. Modern obstetric technology is utilised and given meanings based on socio-cultural conceptualisations of birth, which need to be considered while designing policies for maternal health.
Childbirth practices; Medicalization; India; Grounded theory
Adolescents and parents’ differ in their perceptions regarding engaging in sexual activity and protecting themselves from pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The views of adolescents and parents from two south-eastern communities in Ghana regarding best time for sex and sexual communications were examined.
Focus Group interviews were conducted with parents and adolescents (both In-school and Out-of school) from two communities (Somanya and Adidome) in the Eastern and Volta regions of Ghana with epidemiological differentials in HIV infection.
Findings showed parents and adolescents agree that the best timing for sexual activity amongst adolescents is determined by socioeconomic viability. In practice however, there were tensions between adolescents and parents crystallized by spoilt generation and physiological drive ideologies. Whilst one community relied on a more communal approach in controlling their children; the other relied on a confrontational approach. Sex-talk is examined as a measure to reduce these tensions, and children in both communities were ambivalent over sexual communication between their parents and themselves. Parents from the two communities however differed in their perceptions. Whilst parents in one community attributed reduced teenage pregnancies to sex education, those in the other community indicated a generalized adolescents’ sexual activeness manifested in the perceived widespread delinquency in the community.
Parents in both communities reported significant barriers to parents-adolescents sexual communication. Parents in both communities should be educated to discuss the broader issues on sexuality that affects adolescents and their reproductive health needs.
Adolescents; Parents; Sex; Communication; Ghana