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1.  E-learning for research capacity strengthening in sexual and reproductive health: the experience of the Geneva Foundation for Medical Education and Research and the Department of Reproductive Health and Research, World Health Organization 
Technological advancement has resulted in the increasing use of e-learning and online education, initially in high-income countries and increasingly in low- and middle-income countries.
In 2010, the Geneva Foundation for Medical Education and Research, in collaboration with the World Health Organization and partner institutions, developed an online postgraduate course “From Research to Practice: Training Course in Sexual and Reproductive Health Research”. This course takes advantage of the advancing Internet technology to provide training opportunities to health professionals mostly from low- and middle-income countries whose access to quality education is constrained by time, financial resources, or both.
Case presentation
To assess the outcomes of the course, an evaluation was conducted by sending a self-administered questionnaire to graduates of the 2010–2012 programme. The objectives were to determine if the graduates had applied the knowledge gained from the course to their work and whether they had implemented their research project developed during the course. The evaluation also appraised the number of graduates who participated in the design or implementation of a new research project since the course concluded and whether the course had contributed to advancement in their careers. A total of 175 of 219 course graduates answered the questionnaire.
The evaluation revealed that the majority of respondents (98%) had utilized the knowledge acquired, with nearly half of them (47%) having published a scientific paper as author or co-author. About a third of respondents (39%) had implemented their course research project and about three quarters of them (74%) have been involved in the design or implementation of a research project after completing the course. Over three quarters (81%) of respondents opined that the course had contributed to their career advancement and almost half of them (46%) had a career promotion as a direct or indirect benefit of the course.
We surmise that the course positively impacted the participants’ knowledge and understanding of sexual and reproductive health, which they applied in their professional work, as well as strengthened their research capacity. Success factors for the e-learning programme include tailor-made content to meet participants’ needs, flexibility of access, and ongoing engagement/personal interactivity with course coaches.
PMCID: PMC5142418  PMID: 27927220
2.  Lessons learnt from the CERCA Project, a multicomponent intervention to promote adolescent sexual and reproductive health in three Latin America countries: a qualitative post-hoc evaluation 
•Large projects like CERCA require a preparatory phase and a thorough analysis of the situation at the country level as well as community-specific context information, to which sufficient time and budget should be attributed.•An essential part of community-based intervention and action research is to adapt the monitoring strategy if the interventions are changed and to thoroughly document all activities.•Accepting teenage pregnancies as a complex issue, not only means adapting interventions to this complexity, but also the evaluation design. In the case of the CERCA Project an overall evaluation should have included a component for each activity.•Further, the evaluation rightly addressed the effectiveness of the intervention package but should have extended this to address their acceptability, and factors that helped or hindered their application among all target groups and other stakeholders.•Through the concerted application of a multi-faceted strategy, it is possible to decrease the taboo on adolescent sexuality in a conservative setting.
The Community-Embedded Reproductive Health Care for Adolescents (CERCA) Project was implemented in Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua (2011–2014) to test the effectiveness of interventions preventing teenage pregnancies. As the outcome evaluation showed limited impact, a post-hoc process evaluation was carried out to determine if and how CERCA’s design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation affected the results. We did a document analysis and conducted 18 in-depth interviews and 21 focus group discussions with stakeholders and beneficiaries. Transcripts were analyzed using directed content analysis.
Data showed that CERCA sensitized stakeholders and encouraged the discussion on this sensitive issue. In terms of design, a strong point was the participatory approach; a weak point was that the detailed situation analysis was completed too late. In terms of implementation, a strong point was that multifaceted activities were implemented; a weak point was that the activities were not pilot tested for feasibility/acceptability and evolved substantially throughout the Project. In terms of monitoring, strong points were that regular monitoring kept the Project on track administratively/financially; a weak point was that monitoring indicators did not change as the intervention package changed. In terms of evaluation, weak points were the substantial attrition rate and narrow focus on adolescents.
This study provides recommendations for future projects.
PMCID: PMC4987454  PMID: 27347640
ASRH, adolescent sexual and reproductive health; CERCA, Community-Embedded Reproductive health Care for Adolescents; FGDs, focus group discussions; HIV, human immunodeficiency virus; KIIs, key informant interviews; SRH, sexual and reproductive health; STIs, sexually transmitted infections; WHO, World Health Organization; Sexual and reproductive health; Adolescents; Complex intervention; Post-hoc evaluation; Latin America
3.  Evidence and Evidence Gaps in Adolescent Health 
The Journal of Adolescent Health  2016;59(4 Suppl):S1-S3.
PMCID: PMC5026676  PMID: 27664591
4.  Moving towards the goals of FP2020 — classifying contraceptives☆ 
Contraception  2016;94(4):289-294.
With the renewed focus on family planning, a clear and transparent understanding is needed for the consistent classification of contraceptives, especially in the commonly used modern/traditional system. The World Health Organization Department of Reproductive Health and Research and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) therefore convened a technical consultation in January 2015 to address issues related to classifying contraceptives.
The consultation defined modern contraceptive methods as having a sound basis in reproductive biology, a precise protocol for correct use and evidence of efficacy under various conditions based on appropriately designed studies. Methods in country programs like Fertility Awareness Based Methods [such as Standard Days Method (SDM) and TwoDay Method], Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM) and emergency contraception should be reported as modern. Herbs, charms and vaginal douching are not counted as contraceptive methods as they have no scientific basis in preventing pregnancy nor are in country programs. More research is needed on defining and measuring use of emergency contraceptive methods, to reflect their contribution to reducing unmet need.
The ideal contraceptive classification system should be simple, easy to use, clear and consistent, with greater parsimony. Measurement challenges remain but should not be the driving force to determine what methods are counted or reported as modern or not. Family planning programs should consider multiple attributes of contraceptive methods (e.g., level of effectiveness, need for program support, duration of labeled use, hormonal or nonhormonal) to ensure they provide a variety of methods to meet the needs of women and men.
PMCID: PMC5032916  PMID: 27287693
5.  “A Baby Was an Added Burden”: Predictors and Consequences of Unintended Pregnancies for Female Sex Workers in Mombasa, Kenya: A Mixed-Methods Study 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(9):e0162871.
Female sex workers (FSW) have high rates of unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections including HIV, and other adverse sexual and reproductive health outcomes. Few services for FSWs include contraception. This mixed-methods study aimed to determine the rate, predictors and consequences of unintended pregnancy among FSWs in Mombasa, Kenya.
A prospective cohort study of non-pregnant FSWs was conducted. Quantitative data were collected quarterly, including a structured questionnaire and testing for pregnancy and HIV. Predictors of unintended pregnancy were investigated using multivariate logistic regression. Qualitative data were gathered through focus group discussions and in-depth interviews with FSWs who became pregnant during the study, and interviews with five key informants. These data were transcribed, translated and analysed thematically.
Four hundred women were enrolled, with 92% remaining in the cohort after one year. Fifty-seven percent reported using a modern contraceptive method (including condoms when used consistently). Over one-third (36%) of women were using condoms inconsistently without another method. Twenty-four percent had an unintended pregnancy during the study. Younger age, having an emotional partner and using traditional or no contraception, or condoms only, were independent predictors of unintended pregnancy. Women attributed pregnancy to forgetting to use contraception and being pressured not to by clients and emotional partners, as well as “bad luck”. They described numerous negative consequences of unintended pregnancy.
Modern contraceptive uptake is surprisingly low in this at-risk population, which in turn has a high rate of unintended pregnancy. The latter may result in financial hardship, social stigma, risk of abandonment, or dangerous abortion practices. FSWs face considerable barriers to the adoption of dual method contraceptive use, including low levels of control in their emotional and commercial relationships. Reproductive health services need to be incorporated into programs for sexually transmitted infections and HIV, which address the socially-determined barriers to contraceptive use.
PMCID: PMC5045288  PMID: 27689699
6.  Participatory approaches involving community and healthcare providers in family planning/contraceptive information and service provision: a scoping review 
Reproductive Health  2016;13:88.
As efforts to address unmet need for family planning and contraception (FP/C) accelerate, voluntary use, informed choice and quality must remain at the fore. Active involvement of affected populations has been recognized as one of the key principles in ensuring human rights in the provision of FP/C and in improving quality of care. However, community participation continues to be inadequately addressed in large-scale FP/C programmes. Community and healthcare providers’ unequal relationship can be a barrier to successful participation. This scoping review identifies participatory approaches involving both community and healthcare providers for FP/C services and analyzes relevant evidence. The detailed analysis of 25 articles provided information on 28 specific programmes and identified three types of approaches for community and healthcare provider participation in FP/C programmes. The three approaches were: (i) establishment of new groups either health committees to link the health service providers and users or implementation teams to conduct specific activities to improve or extend available health services, (ii) identification of and collaboration with existing community structures to optimise use of health services and (iii) operationalization of tools to facilitate community and healthcare provider collaboration for quality improvement. Integration of community and healthcare provider participation in FP/C provision were conducted through FP/C-only programmes, FP/C-focused programmes and/or as part of a health service package. The rationales behind the interventions varied and may be multiple. Examples include researcher-, NGO- or health service-initiated programmes with clear objectives of improving FP/C service provision or increasing demand for services; facilitating the involvement of community members or service users and, in some cases, may combine socio-economic development and increasing self-reliance or control over sexual and reproductive health. Although a number of studies reported increase in FP/C knowledge and uptake, the lack of robust monitoring and evaluation mechanisms and quantitative and comparable data resulted in difficulties in generating clear recommendations. It is imperative that programmes are systematically designed, evaluated and reported.
PMCID: PMC4957852  PMID: 27449128
Community participation; Healthcare provider; Unmet need; Family planning; Contraception; Review
7.  Contraceptive method choice among women in slum and non-slum communities in Nairobi, Kenya 
BMC Women's Health  2016;16:35.
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.
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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC4941019  PMID: 27405374
Contraceptive method choice; Contraceptive use; Slum; Non-slum; Urban poor; Nairobi; Kenya
8.  Modern contraceptive use among migrant and non-migrant women in Kenya 
Reproductive Health  2016;13:67.
Manifest socio-economic differences are a trigger for internal migration in many sub-Saharan settings including Kenya. An interplay of the social, political and economic factors often lead to internal migration. Internal migration potentially has significant consequences on an individual’s economic growth and on access to health services, however, there has been little research on these dynamics. In Kenya, where regional differentials in population growth and poverty reduction continue to be priorities in the post MDG development agenda, understanding the relationships between contraceptive use and internal migration is highly relevant.
Using data from the 2008–09 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (DHS), we analyze data from 5,905 women aged 15–49 years who reported being sexually active in the last 12 months prior to the survey. Bivariate and multivariate logistic regressions are fitted to predict correlates of contraceptive use in the presence of migration streams among other explanatory variables.
Modern contraceptive use was significantly higher among women in all migration streams (non-migrant urban (OR = 2.8, p < 0.001), urban-urban (OR = 2.0, p < 0.001), urban-rural (OR = 2.0, p < 0.001), rural-urban (OR = 2.6, p < 0.001), rural-rural (OR = 1.7, p < 0.001), than non-migrant rural women.
Women who internally migrate within Kenya, whether from rural to urban or between urban centres, were more likely to use modern contraception than non-migrant rural women. This phenomenon appears to be due to selection, adaption and disruption effects which are likely to promote use of modern contraceptives. Programmatically, the differentials in modern contraceptive use by the different migration streams should be considered when designing family planning programmes among migrant and non-migrant women.
PMCID: PMC4888625  PMID: 27246329
Kenya; Migration; Migration streams; Modern contraceptive use
10.  Effects of the copper intrauterine device versus injectable progestin contraception on pregnancy rates and method discontinuation among women attending termination of pregnancy services in South Africa: a pragmatic randomized controlled trial 
Reproductive Health  2016;13:42.
The copper intrauterine device (IUD) is under-utilised in South Africa, where injectable progestin contraception (IPC) dominates contraception usage. There is a lack of robust comparative data on these contraceptive options to inform policy, programs, clinical counseling, and women’s choices.
Within the context of a South African program to increase women’s access to the IUD, we conducted a pragmatic, open-label, parallel-arm, randomised controlled trial of the IUD versus IPC at two South African hospitals. The target sample size was 7,000 women and the randomisation ratio was 1:1. The random sequence was computer-generated and group allocation was concealed in sealed, opaque, consecutively-numbered envelopes. Counselled, consenting women attending termination of pregnancy services were randomly assigned to IUD or IPC immediately post-termination. Condoms were promoted for the prevention of sexually-transmitted infections. The primary outcome was pregnancy; secondary outcomes were discontinuation, side-effects, and HIV acquisition and disease progression. Pregnancy and discontinuation outcomes are reported here.
The trial closed early with 2,493 participants randomised (IUD = 1,247, IPC = 1,246), due to international concerns regarding a possible association between IPC and HIV acquisition. Median follow-up was 20 months; 982 and 1000 participants were followed up in the IUD and IPC groups, respectively. Baseline group characteristics were comparable. Pregnancy occurred significantly less frequently among women allocated to the IUD than IPC: 56/971 (5.8 %) versus 83/992 (8.4 %), respectively; risk ratio (RR) 0.69, 95 % confidence interval (CI) 0.50 to 0.96; P = 0.025. There were more protocol violations in the IUD group; however, discontinuation rates were similar between IUD and IPC groups (141/855 [16.5 %] and 143/974 [14.7 %], respectively). Women in the IUD group were more likely to discontinue contraceptive use due to abdominal pain or backache and non-specific symptoms, and those in the IPC group due to oligo- or amenorhoea and lack of sexual activity.
The IUD was significantly more effective in preventing pregnancy than IPC. Efforts to expand contraception options and improve access to the IUD in settings where it is under-utilised are worthwhile. This trial shows that randomising long-acting, reversible contraceptives is feasible.
Trial registration
Pan African Clinical Trials Registry number PACTR201409000880157 (04-09-2014).
PMCID: PMC4835872  PMID: 27091008
DMPA; IUD; Random
11.  Engaging with community-based public and private mid-level providers for promoting the use of modern contraceptive methods in rural Pakistan: results from two innovative birth spacing interventions 
Reproductive Health  2016;13:25.
Family planning (FP) interventions aimed at reducing population growth have negligible during the last two decades in Pakistan. Innovative FP interventions that help reduce the growing population burden are the need of the hour. Marie Stopes Society - Pakistan implemented an operational research project - ‘Evidence for Innovating to Save Lives’, to explore effective and viable intervention models that can promote healthy timing and spacing of pregnancy in rural and under-served communities of Sindh, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces of Pakistan.
We conducted a quasi-experimental (pre - and post-intervention with control arm) study to assess the effectiveness of each of the two intervention models, 1) Suraj model (meaning ‘Sun’ in English), which uses social franchises (SF) along with a demand-side financing (DSF) approach using free vouchers, and 2) Community Midwife (CMW) model, in promoting the use of modern contraceptive methods compared to respective controls.
Baseline and endline cross-sectional household surveys were conducted, 24 months apart, by recruiting 5566 and 6316 married women of reproductive age (MWRA) respectively. We used Stata® version 8 to report the net effect of interventions on outcome indicators using difference-in-differences analysis. Multivariate Cox proportional hazard regression analysis was used to assess the net effect of the intervention on current contraceptive use, keeping time constant and adjusting for other variables in the model.
The Suraj model was effective in significantly increasing awareness about FP methods among MWRA by 14 % percentage points, current contraceptive use by 5 % percentage points and long term modern method - intrauterine device (IUD) use by 6 % percentage points. The CMW model significantly increased contraceptive awareness by 28 % percentage points, ever use of contraceptives by 7 % percentage points and, IUD use by 3 % percentage points. Additionally the Suraj intervention led to a 35 % greater prevalence (prevalence ratio: 1.35, 95 % CI: 1.22–1.50) of contraceptive use among MWRA.
Suraj intervention highlights the importance of embedding subsidized FP services within the communities of the beneficiaries. The outcomes of the CMW intervention also improved the use of long-term contraceptives. These findings indicate the necessity of designing and implementing FP initiatives involving local mid-level providers to expand contraceptive coverage in under-served areas.
PMCID: PMC4797360  PMID: 26987368
Family planning; Birth spacing; Contraception; Vouchers; Community midwives; Suraj; Rural Pakistan
12.  Evidence and knowledge gaps on the disease burden in sexual and gender minorities: a review of systematic reviews 
Sexual and gender minorities (SGM) include individuals with a wide range of sexual orientations, physical characteristics, and gender identities and expressions. Data suggest that people in this group face a significant and poorly understood set of additional health risks and bear a higher burden of some diseases compared to the general population. A large amount of data is available on HIV/AIDS, but far less on other health problems. In this review we aimed to synthesize the knowledge on the burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases, mental health conditions and violence experienced by SGM, based on available systematic reviews. We conducted a global review of systematic reviews, including searching the Cochrane and the Campbell Collaboration libraries, as well as PubMed, using a range of search terms describing the populations of interest, without time or language restrictions. Google Scholar was also scanned for unpublished literature, and references of all selected reviews were checked to identify further relevant articles. We found 30 systematic reviews, all originally written in English. Nine reviews provided data on HIV, 12 on other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), 4 on cancer, 4 on violence and 3 on mental health and substance use. A quantitative meta-analysis was not possible. The findings are presented in a narrative format. Our review primarily showed that there is a high burden of disease for certain subpopulations of SGM in HIV, STIs, STI-related cancers and mental health conditions, and that they also face high rates of violence. Secondly, our review revealed many knowledge gaps. Those gaps partly stem from a lack of original research, but there is an equally urgent need to conduct systematic and literature reviews to assess what we already know on the disease burden in SGM. Additional reviews are needed on the non-biological factors that could contribute to the higher disease burden. In addition, to provide universal access to health-care for all, more information is needed on the barriers that SGM face in accessing health services, including the attitudes of health-care providers. Understanding these barriers and the additional health risks they impose is crucial to improving the health status of SGM.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12939-016-0304-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4724086  PMID: 26800682
Sexual and gender minorities; Disease burden; LGBT; Health
13.  eRegistries: Electronic registries for maternal and child health 
The Global Roadmap for Health Measurement and Accountability sees integrated systems for health information as key to obtaining seamless, sustainable, and secure information exchanges at all levels of health systems. The Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescent’s Health aims to achieve a continuum of quality of care with effective coverage of interventions. The WHO and World Bank recommend that countries focus on intervention coverage to monitor programs and progress for universal health coverage. Electronic health registries - eRegistries - represent integrated systems that secure a triple return on investments: First, effective single data collection for health workers to seamlessly follow individuals along the continuum of care and across disconnected cadres of care providers. Second, real-time public health surveillance and monitoring of intervention coverage, and third, feedback of information to individuals, care providers and the public for transparent accountability. This series on eRegistries presents frameworks and tools to facilitate the development and secure operation of eRegistries for maternal and child health.
In this first paper of the eRegistries Series we have used WHO frameworks and taxonomy to map how eRegistries can support commonly used electronic and mobile applications to alleviate health systems constraints in maternal and child health. A web-based survey of public health officials in 64 low- and middle-income countries, and a systematic search of literature from 2005–2015, aimed to assess country capacities by the current status, quality and use of data in reproductive health registries.
eRegistries can offer support for the 12 most commonly used electronic and mobile applications for health. Countries are implementing health registries in various forms, the majority in transition from paper-based data collection to electronic systems, but very few have eRegistries that can act as an integrating backbone for health information. More mature country capacity reflected by published health registry based research is emerging in settings reaching regional or national scale, increasingly with electronic solutions. 66 scientific publications were identified based on 32 registry systems in 23 countries over a period of 10 years; this reflects a challenging experience and capacity gap for delivering sustainable high quality registries.
Registries are being developed and used in many high burden countries, but their potential benefits are far from realized as few countries have fully transitioned from paper-based health information to integrated electronic backbone systems. Free tools and frameworks exist to facilitate progress in health information for women and children.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12884-016-0801-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4721069  PMID: 26791790
Health systems; eRegistries; Women’s; Children’s and Adolescent’s Health; health surveillance; eHealth; mHealth
14.  Global Estimates of the Prevalence and Incidence of Four Curable Sexually Transmitted Infections in 2012 Based on Systematic Review and Global Reporting 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(12):e0143304.
Quantifying sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevalence and incidence is important for planning interventions and advocating for resources. The World Health Organization (WHO) periodically estimates global and regional prevalence and incidence of four curable STIs: chlamydia, gonorrhoea, trichomoniasis and syphilis.
Methods and Findings
WHO’s 2012 estimates were based upon literature reviews of prevalence data from 2005 through 2012 among general populations for genitourinary infection with chlamydia, gonorrhoea, and trichomoniasis, and nationally reported data on syphilis seroprevalence among antenatal care attendees. Data were standardized for laboratory test type, geography, age, and high risk subpopulations, and combined using a Bayesian meta-analytic approach. Regional incidence estimates were generated from prevalence estimates by adjusting for average duration of infection. In 2012, among women aged 15–49 years, the estimated global prevalence of chlamydia was 4.2% (95% uncertainty interval (UI): 3.7–4.7%), gonorrhoea 0.8% (0.6–1.0%), trichomoniasis 5.0% (4.0–6.4%), and syphilis 0.5% (0.4–0.6%); among men, estimated chlamydia prevalence was 2.7% (2.0–3.6%), gonorrhoea 0.6% (0.4–0.9%), trichomoniasis 0.6% (0.4–0.8%), and syphilis 0.48% (0.3–0.7%). These figures correspond to an estimated 131 million new cases of chlamydia (100–166 million), 78 million of gonorrhoea (53–110 million), 143 million of trichomoniasis (98–202 million), and 6 million of syphilis (4–8 million). Prevalence and incidence estimates varied by region and sex.
Estimates of the global prevalence and incidence of chlamydia, gonorrhoea, trichomoniasis, and syphilis in adult women and men remain high, with nearly one million new infections with curable STI each day. The estimates highlight the urgent need for the public health community to ensure that well-recognized effective interventions for STI prevention, screening, diagnosis, and treatment are made more widely available. Improved estimation methods are needed to allow use of more varied data and generation of estimates at the national level.
PMCID: PMC4672879  PMID: 26646541
15.  Advancing the sexual and reproductive health and human rights of women living with HIV: a review of UN, regional and national human rights norms and standards 
Journal of the International AIDS Society  2015;18(6Suppl 5):20280.
The right to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) is an essential part of the right to health and is dependent upon substantive equality, including freedom from multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination that result in exclusion in both law and practice. Nonetheless, general and specific SRH needs of women living with HIV are often not adequately addressed. For example, services that women living with HIV need may not be available or may have multiple barriers, in particular stigma and discrimination. This study was conducted to review United Nations Human Rights Council, Treaty Monitoring Bodies and Special Rapporteur reports and regional and national mechanisms regarding SRH issues of women living with HIV. The objective is to assess areas of progress, as well as gaps, in relation to health and human rights considerations in the work of these normative bodies on health and human rights.
The review was done using keywords of international, regional and national jurisprudence on findings covering the 2000 to 2014 period for documents in English; searches for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and national judgments were also conducted in Spanish. Jurisprudence of UN Treaty Monitoring Bodies, regional mechanisms and national bodies was considered in this regard.
Results and discussion
In total, 236 findings were identified using the search strategy, and of these 129 were selected for review based on the inclusion criteria. The results highlight that while jurisprudence from international, regional and national bodies reflects consideration of some health and human rights issues related to women living with HIV and SRH, the approach of these bodies has been largely ad hoc and lacks a systematic integration of human rights concerns of women living with HIV in relation to SRH. Most findings relate to non-discrimination, accessibility, informed decision-making and accountability. There are critical gaps on normative standards regarding the human rights of women living with HIV in relation to SRH.
A systematic approach to health and human rights considerations related to women living with HIV and SRH by international, regional and national bodies is needed to advance the agenda and ensure that policies and programmes related to SRH systematically take into account the health and human rights of women living with HIV.
PMCID: PMC4672403  PMID: 26643455
sexual and reproductive health; HIV; women living with HIV; human rights
16.  Intimate partner violence and psychosocial health, a cross-sectional study in a pregnant population 
The objective of this paper is to explore whether IPV 12 months before and/or during pregnancy is associated with poor psychosocial health.
From June 2010 to October 2012, a cross-sectional study was conducted in 11 antenatal care clinics in Belgium. Consenting pregnant women were asked to complete a questionnaire on socio-demographics, psychosocial health and violence in a separate room. Overall, 2586 women were invited to participate and we were able to use data from 1894 women (73.2 %) for analysis. Ethical clearance was obtained in all participating hospitals.
We found a significant correlation between IPV and poor psychosocial health: within the group of women who reported IPV, 53.2 % (n = 118) had poor psychosocial health, as compared to 21 % (n = 286) in the group of women who did not report IPV (P < 0.001).
Lower psychosocial health scores were associated with increased odds of reporting IPV (aOR 1.55; 95 % CI 1.39–1.72), with adjustments made for the language in which the questionnaire was filled out, civil/marital status, education and age. In other words, a decrease of 10 points on the psychosocial health scale (total of 140) increased the odds of reporting IPV by 55 %.
When accounting for the 6 psychosocial health subscales, the analysis revealed that all subscales (depression, anxiety, self-esteem, mastery, worry and stress) are strongly correlated to reporting IPV. However, when accounting for all subscales simultaneously in a logistic regression model, only depression (aOR 0.87; 95 % CI 0.84–0.91) and stress (aOR 0.85; 95 % CI 0.77–095) remained significantly associated with IPV. The association between overall psychosocial health and IPV remained significant after adjusting for socio-demographic status.
Our research corroborated that IPV and psychosocial health are strongly associated. Due to the limitations of our study design, we believe that future research is needed to deepen understanding of the multitude of factors involved in the complex interactions between IPV and psychosocial health.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12884-015-0710-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4641387  PMID: 26554901
Intimate partner violence; Abuse; Pregnancy; Psychosocial health
17.  How to assess success of treatment when using multiple doses: the case of misoprostol for medical abortion 
Trials  2015;16:510.
The assessment of treatment success in clinical trials when multiple (repeated) doses (courses) are involved is quite common, for example, in the case of infertility treatment with assisted reproductive technology (ART), and medical abortion using misoprostol alone or in combination with mifepristone. Under these or similar circumstances, most researchers assess success using binomial proportions after a certain number of consecutive doses, and some have used survival analysis. In this paper we discuss the main problems in using binomial proportions to summarize (the overall) efficacy after two or more consecutive doses of the relevant treatment, particularly for the case of misoprostol in medical abortion studies. We later discuss why the survival analysis is best suited under these circumstances, and illustrate this by using simulated data.
The formulas required for the binomial proportion and survival analysis (without and with competing risks) approaches are summarized and analytically compared. Additionally, numerical results are computed and compared between the two approaches, for several theoretical scenarios.
The main conceptual limitations of the binomial proportion approach are identified and discussed, caused mainly by the presence of censoring and competing risks, and it is demonstrated how survival analysis can solve these problems. In general, the binomial proportion approach tends to underestimate the “real” success rate, and tends to overestimate the corresponding standard error.
Depending on the rates of censored observations or competing events between repeated doses of the treatment, the bias of the binomial proportion approach as compared to the survival analysis approaches varies; however, the use of the binomial approach is unjustified as the survival analysis options are well known and available in multiple statistical packages. Our conclusions also apply to other situations where success is estimated after multiple (repeated) doses (courses) of the treatment.
PMCID: PMC4637147  PMID: 26547301
Medical abortion; Binomial proportion; Survival analysis; Competing risks
18.  Determinants of Method Switching among Social Franchise Clients Who Discontinued the Use of Intrauterine Contraceptive Device 
Introduction. Women who do not switch to alternate methods after contraceptive discontinuation, for reasons other than the desire to get pregnant or not needing it, are at obvious risk for unplanned pregnancies or unwanted births. This paper examines the factors that influence women to switch from Intrauterine Contraceptive Device (IUCD) to other methods instead of terminating contraceptive usage altogether. Methods. The data used for this study comes from a larger cross-sectional survey conducted in nine (9) randomly selected districts of Sindh and Punjab provinces of Pakistan, during January 2011. Using Stata 11.2, we analyzed data on 333 women, who reported the removal of IUCDs due to reasons other than the desire to get pregnant. Results. We found that 39.9% of the women do not switch to another method of contraception within one month after IUCD discontinuation. Use of contraception before IUCD insertion increases the odds for method switching by 2.26 times after removal. Similarly, postremoval follow-up by community health worker doubles (OR = 2.0) the chances of method switching. Compared with women who received free IUCD service (via voucher scheme), the method switching is 2.01 times higher among women who had paid for IUCD insertion. Conclusion. To increase the likelihood of method switching among IUCD discontinuers this study emphasizes the need for postremoval client counseling, follow-up by healthcare provider, improved choices to a wider range of contraceptives for poor clients, and user satisfaction.
PMCID: PMC4630392  PMID: 26576454
19.  Sexual and reproductive health risks amongst female adolescents who use amphetamine-type stimulants and sell sex: a qualitative inquiry in Yunnan, China 
China, as other Southeast Asian countries, has witnessed an increased use in amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) amongst urban youth. Amongst female adolescents who both sell sex and use ATS, risk behaviours are compounded resulting in even poorer health outcomes. However, limited knowledge exists on ATS use patterns and ATS-related risk behaviours, particularly in this context. This research aimed to improve the understanding of these issues amongst female adolescents who use ATS and sell sex, and to inform future programming.
This study utilised monthly focus group discussions (four in total) with the same study participants in Yunnan, China. From within a drug-treatment programme, female adolescents who reported both a history of drug use and selling sex were purposively enrolled in the study.
Participating adolescent females were aged 17–19 years and were all internal-migrants with low literacy. All reported polydrug use (mainly methamphetamine and heroin, whereas ecstasy and ketamine have been infrequently employed). Being less informed about risks of drug use and lack of sexual and reproductive health knowledge seemed to contribute to problematic drug use, rough and prolonged sexual intercourse, inconsistent condom use and ineffective contraceptive practice. For their income, participants largely relied on selling sex, which was frequently coupled with drug sharing services to clients. However, despite the practices, women did not self-identify as sex workers, and therefore did not think that existing intervention services targeting female sex workers were relevant to them. Moreover, criminalization and stigmatisation of drug use and selling sex impeded their access to care services.
Current harm reduction and HIV/sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention services are unlikely to address the demand of female adolescents engaged in drug use and commercial sex. Our findings highlight that a comprehensive and coordinated harm reduction and sexual and reproductive health response should be conducted involving these most vulnerable adolescents.
PMCID: PMC4608054  PMID: 26472221
Amphetamine-type stimulants; Female adolescents; Commercial sex; Sexual and reproductive health; Harm reduction; China
20.  Challenges and opportunities for implementing evidence-based antenatal care in Mozambique: a qualitative study 
Maternal mortality remains a daunting problem in Mozambique and many other low-resource countries. High quality antenatal care (ANC) services can improve maternal and newborn health outcomes and increase the likelihood that women will seek skilled delivery care. This study explores the factors influencing provider uptake of the recommended package of ANC interventions in Mozambique.
This study used qualitative research methods including key informant interviews with stakeholders from the health sector and a total of five focus group discussions with women with experience with ANC or women from the community. Study participants were selected from three health centers located in Maputo city, Tete, and Cabo Delgado provinces in Mozambique. Staff responsible for the medicines/supply chain at national, provincial and district level were interviewed. A check list was implemented to confirm the availability of the supplies required for ANC. Deductive content analysis was conducted.
Three main groups of factors were identified that hinder the implementation of the ANC package in the study setting: a) system or organizational: include chronic supply chain deficiencies, failures in the continuing education system, lack of regular audits and supervision, absence of an efficient patient record system and poor environmental conditions at the health center; b) health care provider factors: such as limited awareness of current clinical guidelines and a resistant attitude to adopting new recommendations; and c) Users: challenges with accessing ANC, poor recognition amongst women about the purpose and importance of the specific interventions provided through ANC, and widespread perception of an unfriendly environment at the health center.
The ANC package in Mozambique is not being fully implemented in the three study facilities, and a major barrier is poor functioning of the supply chain system. Recommendations for improving the implementation of antenatal interventions include ensuring clinical protocols based on the ANC model. Increasing the community understanding of the importance of ANC would improve demand for high quality ANC services. The supply chain functioning could be strengthened through the introduction of a kit system with all the necessary supplies for ANC and a simple monitoring system to track the stock levels is recommended.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12884-015-0625-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4557743  PMID: 26330022
21.  Implementation of Point-of-Care Diagnostics Leads to Variable Uptake of Syphilis, Anemia and CD4+ T-Cell Count Testing in Rural Maternal and Child Health Clinics 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(8):e0135744.
Anemia, syphilis and HIV are high burden diseases among pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa. A quasi-experimental study was conducted in four health facilities in Southern Mozambique to evaluate the effect of point-of-care technologies for hemoglobin quantification, syphilis testing and CD4+ T-cell enumeration performed within maternal and child health services on testing and treatment coverage, and assessing acceptability by health workers.
Demographic and testing data on women attending first antenatal care services were extracted from existing records, before (2011; n = 865) and after (2012; n = 808) introduction of point-of-care testing. Study outcomes per health facility were compared using z-tests (categorical variables) and Wilcoxon rank-sum test (continuous variables), while inverse variance weights were used to adjust for possible cluster effects in the pooled analysis. A structured acceptability-assessment interview was conducted with health workers before (n = 22) and after (n = 19).
After implementation of point-of-care testing, there was no significant change in uptake of overall hemoglobin screening (67.9% to 83.0%; p = 0.229), syphilis screening (80.8% to 87.0%; p = 0.282) and CD4+ T-cell testing (84.9% to 83.5%; p = 0.930). Initiation of antiretroviral therapy for treatment eligible women was similar in the weighted analysis before and after, with variability among the sites. Time from HIV diagnosis to treatment initiation decreased (median of 44 days to 17 days; p<0.0001). A generally good acceptability for point-of-care testing was seen among health workers.
Point-of-care CD4+ T-cell enumeration resulted in a decreased time to initiation of antiretroviral therapy among treatment eligible women, without significant increase in testing coverage. Overall hemoglobin and syphilis screening increased. Despite the perception that point-of-care technologies increase access to health services, the variability in results indicate the potential for detrimental effects in some settings. Local context needs to be considered and services restructured to accommodate innovative technologies in order to improve service delivery to expectant mothers.
PMCID: PMC4550242  PMID: 26308345
22.  Sexual and Reproductive Health Research and Research Capacity Strengthening in Africa: Perspectives from the region 
Reproductive Health  2015;12:64.
Developing the capacity to effectively carry out public health research is an integral part of health systems at both the national and global levels and strengthening research capacity is recognized as an approach to better health and development in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Especially fields such as sexual and reproductive health (SRH) would require inter-disciplinary teams of researchers equipped with a range of methodologies to achieve this. In November 2013, as part of the International Family Planning Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, a group of African researchers came together to discuss the gaps and strategies to improve sexual and reproductive health research and research capacity strengthening in Africa. This commentary summarizes the three broad areas where the issues and proposed solutions have concentrated around:Addressing research gaps that are most relevant to policies and programmes in SRH,Carrying out high quality and collaborative research, andTranslating research findings into SRH policies and programmes.
Even though the focus of the discussions was Africa, the issues and proposed solutions can also be applied to other regions facing a high burden of disease with limited resources. The time is now and these can be achieved through synergistic commitment of African and global researchers, funders and organizations.
PMCID: PMC4521375  PMID: 26226944
Sexual and reproductive health; Africa; Research; Policy; Capacity strengthening
23.  A cross sectional comparison of postnatal care quality in facilities participating in a maternal health voucher program versus non-voucher facilities in Kenya 
Health service fees constitute substantial barriers for women seeking childbirth and postnatal care. In an effort to reduce health inequities, the government of Kenya in 2006 introduced the output-based approach (OBA), or voucher programme, to increase poor women’s access to quality Safe Motherhood services including postnatal care. To help improve service quality, OBA programmes purchase services on behalf of the poor and marginalised, with provider reimbursements for verified services. Kenya’s programme accredited health facilities in three districts as well as in two informal Nairobi settlements.
Postnatal care quality in voucher health facilities (n = 21) accredited in 2006 and in similar non-voucher health facilities (n = 20) are compared with cross sectional data collected in 2010. Summary scores for quality were calculated as additive sums of specific aspects of each attribute (structure, process, outcome). Measures of effect were assessed in a linear regression model accounting for clustering at facility level. Data were analysed using Stata 11.0.
The overall quality of postnatal care is poor in voucher and non-voucher facilities, but many facilities demonstrated ‘readiness’ for postnatal care (structural attributes: infrastructure, equipment, supplies, staffing, training) indicated by high scores (83/111), with public voucher facilities scoring higher than public non-voucher facilities. The two groups of facilities evinced no significant differences in postnatal care mean process scores: 14.2/55 in voucher facilities versus 16.4/55 in non-voucher facilities; coefficient: -1.70 (-4.9, 1.5), p = 0.294. Significantly more newborns were seen within 48 hours (83.5 % versus 72.1 %: p = 0.001) and received Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) (82.5 % versus 76.5 %: p < 0.001) at voucher facilities than at non-voucher facilities.
Four years after facility accreditation in Kenya, scores for postnatal care quality are low in all facilities, even those with Safe Motherhood vouchers. We recommend the Kenya OBA programme review its Safe Motherhood reimbursement package and draw lessons from supply side results-based financing initiatives, to improve postnatal care quality.
PMCID: PMC4513395  PMID: 26205379
Postnatal care; Vvoucher; OBA; Quality of care; Structure; Process and outcome
24.  Couple based family planning education: changes in male involvement and contraceptive use among married couples in Jimma Zone, Ethiopia 
BMC Public Health  2015;15:682.
Family planning contributes substantially in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Recently, male involvement has gained considerable attention in family planning programs but the implementation thereof remains a challenge. In that context, our study aimed at measuring the effect of a six-month-long family planning education program on male involvement in family planning, as well as on couples’ contraceptive practice.
We conducted a quasi-experimental research among 811 married couples in Jimma Zone, southwest Ethiopia. Our study consisted of an intervention and a control group for comparative purpose; and surveyed before and after the implementation of the intervention. The intervention consisted of family planning education, given to both men and women at the household level in the intervention arm, in addition to monthly community gatherings. During the intervention period, households in the control group were not subject to particular activities but had access to routine health care services.
We obtained follow-up data from 760 out of 786 (96.7 %) couples who were originally enrolled in the survey. Findings were compared within and between groups before and after intervention surveys. At the baseline, contraceptive use in both control and intervention households were similar. After the intervention, we observed among men in the intervention arm a significantly higher level of willingness to be actively involved in family planning compared to the men in the control arm (p < 0.001). In addition, the difference between spouses that discussed family planning issues was less reported within the control group, both in the case of men and women ((p = 0.031) and (p < 0.001)) respectively. In general, a significant, positive difference in male involvement was observed. Concerning contraceptive use, there was change observed among the intervention group who were not using contraception at baseline.
This study showed that family planning educational intervention, which includes both spouses and promotes spousal communication, might be useful to foster contraceptive practice among couples. The results also offer practical information on the benefits of male involvement in family planning as a best means to increase contraceptive use. Thus, providing opportunities to reinforce family planning education may strengthen the existing family planning service delivery system.
PMCID: PMC4509724  PMID: 26194476
Couples; Quasi-experimental; Family planning; Educational; Intervention
25.  Sexual onset and contraceptive use among adolescents from poor neighbourhoods in Managua, Nicaragua 
Background and objectives The prevalence of teenage pregnancies in Nicaragua is the highest in Latin-America. This study aimed to gain insight into factors which determine the sexual behaviours concerned.
Methods From July until August 2011, a door-to-door survey was conducted among adolescents living in randomly selected poor neighbourhoods of Managua. Logistic regression was used to analyse factors related to sexual onset and contraceptive use.
Results Data from 2803 adolescents were analysed. Of the 475 and 299 sexually active boys and girls, 43% and 54%, respectively, reported contraceptive use. Sexual onset was positively related to increasing age, male sex, alcohol consumption and not living with the parents. Catholic boys and boys never feeling peer pressure to have sexual intercourse were more likely to report consistent condom use. Having a partner and feeling comfortable talking about sexuality with the partner were associated with hormonal contraception.
Conclusions Our data identified associates of adolescents’ sexual behaviour related to personal characteristics (sex and alcohol use), to the interaction with significant others (parents, partners, peers) and to the environment (housing condition, religion). We interpreted those associates within the context of the rapidly changing society and the recently implemented health system reform in Nicaragua.
Chinese Abstract
背景与目的 尼加瓜拉是拉丁美洲青少年妊娠率最高的国家。本研究旨在深入了解其性行为相关因素。
方法 2011年7月至8月,研究者在马那瓜贫困地区随机抽样,通过入户访视对青少年进行调查。统计方法采用Logistic回归,分析与性发生及避孕相关的影响因素。
结果 研究分析了2 803名青少年的数据。在475名与299名有性活动的男孩与女孩中,分别有43%与54%采取了避孕措施。研究表明,性发生与年龄增长、男性性别、酒精摄入及脱离父母独居等因素呈正相关。天主教男孩与从未感受到性交方面同侪压力的男孩会坚持使用避孕套。有性伴侣且可以与性伴侣坦然讨论性话题与避孕药的使用相关。
结论 研究数据表明,青少年性行为与个人特征(性活动及酒精摄入)、其他个体影响(父母、性伴侣、同侪)以及环境因素(住房条件、宗教)相关。我们认为这些相关性发生的背景为尼加拉瓜瞬息万变的社会环境与近期实施的医疗系统体制的改革。
PMCID: PMC4487549  PMID: 25327958
Adolescents; Nicaragua; Contraception; Pregnancy in adolescence; Sexual behaviour; Latin America

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