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1.  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
2.  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
3.  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
4.  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
5.  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
6.  Opportunities to improve postpartum care for mothers and infants: design of context-specific packages of postpartum interventions in rural districts in four sub-Saharan African countries 
Postpartum maternal and infant mortality is high in sub-Saharan Africa and improving postpartum care as a strategy to enhance maternal and infant health has been neglected. We describe the design and selection of suitable, context-specific interventions that have the potential to improve postpartum care.
The study is implemented in rural districts in Burkina Faso, Kenya, Malawi and Mozambique.
We used the four steps ‘systems thinking’ approach to design and select interventions: 1) we conducted a stakeholder analysis to identify and convene stakeholders; 2) we organised stakeholders causal analysis workshops in which the local postpartum situation and challenges and possible interventions were discussed; 3) based on comprehensive needs assessment findings, inputs from the stakeholders and existing knowledge regarding good postpartum care, a list of potential interventions was designed, and; 4) the stakeholders selected and agreed upon final context-specific intervention packages to be implemented to improve postpartum care.
Needs assessment findings showed that in all study countries maternal, newborn and child health is a national priority but specific policies for postpartum care are weak and there is very little evidence of effective postpartum care implementation. In the study districts few women received postpartum care during the first week after childbirth (25 % in Burkina Faso, 33 % in Kenya, 41 % in Malawi, 40 % in Mozambique). Based on these findings the interventions selected by stakeholders mainly focused on increasing the availability and provision of postpartum services and improving the quality of postpartum care through strengthening postpartum services and care at facility and community level. This includes the introduction of postpartum home visits, strengthening postpartum outreach services, integration of postpartum services for the mother in child immunisation clinics, distribution of postpartum care guidelines among health workers and upgrading postpartum care knowledge and skills through training.
There are extensive gaps in availability and provision of postpartum care for mothers and infants. Acknowledging these gaps and involving relevant stakeholders are important to design and select sustainable, context-specific packages of interventions to improve postpartum care.
PMCID: PMC4453099  PMID: 26038100
Postpartum; Maternal health; Infant; Newborn; Maternal mortality; Health system research; Sub-Saharan Africa
7.  Assessing predictors of contraceptive use and demand for family planning services in underserved areas of Punjab province in Pakistan: results of a cross-sectional baseline survey 
Reproductive Health  2015;12:25.
Although Pakistan was one of the first countries in Asia to launch national family planning programs, current modern contraceptive use stands at only 26% with a method mix skewed toward short-acting and permanent methods. As part of a multiyear operational research study, a baseline survey was conducted to understand the predictors of contraceptive use and demand for family planning services in underserved areas of Punjab province in Pakistan. This paper presents the baseline survey results; the outcomes of the intervention will be presented in a separate paper after the study has been completed.
A cross-sectional baseline household survey was conducted with randomly selected 3,998 married women of reproductive age (MWRA) in the Chakwal, Mianwali, and Bhakkar districts of Punjab. The data were analyzed on SPSS 17.0 using simple descriptive and logistic regression.
Most of the women had low socio-economic status and were younger than 30 years of age. Four-fifths of the women consulted private sector health facilities for reproductive health services; proximity, availability of services, and good reputation of the provider were the main predicators for choosing the facilities. Husbands were reported as the key decision maker regarding health-seeking and family planning uptake. Overall, the current contraceptive use ranged from 17% to 21% across the districts: condoms and female sterilization were widely used methods. Woman’s age, husband’s education, wealth quintiles, spousal communication, location of last delivery, and favorable attitude toward contraception have an association with current contraceptive use. Unmet need for contraception was 40.6%, 36.6%, and 31.9% in Chakwal, Mianwali, and Bhakkar, respectively. Notably, more than one fifth of the women across the districts expressed willingness to use quality, affordable long-term family planning services in the future.
The baseline results highlight the need for quality, affordable long-term family planning services close to women’s homes. Furthermore, targeted community mobilization and behavior change efforts can lead to increased awareness, acceptability, and use of family planning and birth spacing services.
PMCID: PMC4383051  PMID: 25880987
8.  Barriers to modern contraceptive methods uptake among young women in Kenya: a qualitative study 
BMC Public Health  2015;15:118.
Young women in Kenya experience a higher risk of mistimed and unwanted pregnancy compared to older women. However, contraceptive use among youth remains low. Known barriers to uptake include side effects, access to commodities and partner approval.
To inform a youth focussed behaviour change communication campaign, Population Services Kenya developed a qualitative study to better understand these barriers among young women. The study was carried out in Nyanza, Coast, and Central regions. Within these regions, urban or peri-urban districts were purposively selected based on having contraceptive prevalence rate close to the regional average and having a population with low socioeconomic profiles. In depth interviews were conducted with a sample of sexually active women aged 15–24, both users and non-users, that were drawn from randomly selected households.
All the respondents in the study were familiar with modern methods of contraception and most could describe their general mechanisms of action. Condoms were not considered as contraception by many users. Contraception was also associated with promiscuity and straying. Fear of side effects and adverse reactions were a major barrier to use. The biggest fear was that a particular method would cause infertility. Many fears were based on myths and misconceptions. Young women learn about both true side effects and myths from their social networks.
Findings from this research confirm that awareness and knowledge of contraception do not necessarily translate to use. The main barriers to modern contraceptive uptake among young women are myths and misconceptions. The findings stress the influence of social network approval on the use of family planning, beyond the individual’s beliefs. In such settings, family planning programming should engage with the wider community through mass and peer campaign strategies. As an outcome from this study, Population Services Kenya developed a mass media campaign to address key myths and misconceptions among youth.
PMCID: PMC4336491  PMID: 25884675
Family planning; Kenya; Young women; Contraceptives; Myths and misconceptions; Behaviour change communication
9.  Sexual and Reproductive Health Knowledge, Contraception Uptake, and Factors Associated with Unmet Need for Modern Contraception among Adolescent Female Sex Workers in China 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(1):e0115435.
In China, policy and social taboo prevent unmarried adolescents from accessing sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services. Research is needed to determine the SRH needs of highly disadvantaged groups, such as adolescent female sex workers (FSWs). This study describes SRH knowledge, contraception use, pregnancy, and factors associated with unmet need for modern contraception among adolescent FSWs in Kunming, China.
A cross-sectional study using a one-stage cluster sampling method was employed to recruit adolescents aged 15 to 20 years, and who self-reported having received money or gifts in exchange for sex in the past 6 months. A semi-structured questionnaire was administered by trained peer educators or health workers. Multivariable logistic regression was conducted to determine correlates of low knowledge and unmet need for modern contraception.
SRH knowledge was poor among the 310 adolescents surveyed; only 39% had heard of any long-acting reversible contraception (implant, injection or IUD). Despite 98% reporting not wanting to get pregnant, just 43% reported consistent condom use and 28% currently used another form of modern contraception. Unmet need for modern contraception was found in 35% of adolescents, and was associated with having a current non-paying partner, regular alcohol use, and having poorer SRH knowledge. Past abortion was common (136, 44%). In the past year, 76% had reported a contraception consultation but only 27% reported ever receiving SRH information from a health service.
This study demonstrated a low level of SRH knowledge, a high unmet need for modern contraception and a high prevalence of unintended pregnancy among adolescent FSWs in Kunming. Most girls relied on condoms, emergency contraception, or traditional methods, putting them at risk of unwanted pregnancy. This study identifies an urgent need for Chinese adolescent FSWs to be able to access quality SRH information and effective modern contraception.
PMCID: PMC4307985  PMID: 25625194
10.  Intimate Partner Violence after Disclosure of HIV Test Results among Pregnant Women in Harare, Zimbabwe 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e109447.
HIV status disclosure is a central strategy in HIV prevention and treatment but in high prevalence settings women test disproportionately and most often during pregnancy. This study reports intimate partner violence (IPV) following disclosure of HIV test results by pregnant women.
In this cross sectional study we interviewed 1951 postnatal women who tested positive and negative for HIV about IPV experiences following HIV test disclosure, using an adapted WHO questionnaire. Multivariate regression models assessed factors associated with IPV after disclosure and controlled for factors such as previous IPV and other known behavioural factors associated with IPV.
Over 93% (1817) disclosed the HIV results to their partners (96.5% HIV− vs. 89.3% HIV+, p<0.0001). Overall HIV prevalence was 15.3%, (95%CI:13.7–16.9), 35.2% among non-disclosers and 14.3% among disclosers. Overall 32.8% reported IPV (40.5% HIV+; 31.5% HIV− women, p = 0.004). HIV status was associated with IPV (partially adjusted 1.43: (95%CI:1.00–2.05 as well as reporting negative reactions by male partners immediately after disclosure (adjusted OR 5.83, 95%CI:4.31–7.80). Factors associated with IPV were gender inequity, past IPV, risky sexual behaviours and living with relatives. IPV after HIV disclosure in pregnancy is high but lower than and is strongly related with IPV before pregnancy (adjusted OR 6.18, 95%CI: 3.84–9.93).
The study demonstrates the interconnectedness of IPV, HIV status and its disclosure with IPV which was a common experience post disclosure of both an HIV positive and HIV negative result. Health services must give attention to the gendered nature and consequences of HIV disclosure such as enskilling women on how to determine and respond to the risks associated with disclosure. Efforts to involve men in antenatal care must also be strengthened.
PMCID: PMC4211664  PMID: 25350001
11.  WHO guidance grounded in a comprehensive approach to sexual and reproductive health and human rights: topical pre-exposure prophylaxis 
Journal of the International AIDS Society  2014;17(3Suppl 2):19279.
Two new microbicide products based on topical (vaginal) application of antiretroviral drugs – 1% tenofovir gel and the dapivirine ring – are currently in late-stage clinical testing, and results on their safety and effectiveness are expected to become available in early 2015. WHO guidelines on the use of topical pre-exposure prophylaxis (topical PrEP) are important in order to ensure that these new prevention products are optimally used.
Given that these new topical PrEP products are designed to be woman initiated and will likely be delivered in reproductive health settings, it is important to ensure that the guidance be framed in the context of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and human rights. In addition to the safety and effectiveness data resulting from clinical trials, and the regulatory approval required for new products, the WHO normative guidelines on the use of topical PrEP will be essential for rapid roll-out in countries.
Human rights standards and principles provide a framework for the provision of woman-initiated HIV prevention products. These include addressing issues related to the gender inequities which are linked to the provision of HIV-prevention, treatment and care for young girls and women. Effective programming for women and girls must therefore be based on understanding the local, social and community contexts of the AIDS epidemic in the country, and adapting HIV strategies and programmes accordingly. Such a framework therefore is needed not only to ensure optimal uptake of these new products by women and girls but also to address sociocultural barriers to women's and girls’ access to these products.
PMCID: PMC4163998  PMID: 25224620
human rights; sexual and reproductive health; HIV; prevention; pre-exposure prophylaxis; microbicide
12.  Prevalence and evolution of intimate partner violence before and during pregnancy: a cross-sectional study 
Intimate partner violence (IPV) before and during pregnancy is associated with a broad range of adverse health outcomes. Describing the extent and the evolution of IPV is a crucial step in developing interventions to reduce the health impact of IPV.
The objectives are to study the prevalence of psychological abuse, as well as physical & sexual violence, and to provide insight into the evolution of IPV 12 months before and during pregnancy.
Between June 2010 and October 2012, a cross-sectional study was conducted in 11 antenatal care clinics in Belgium. Consenting pregnant women were asked to complete a questionnaire (available in Dutch, French and English) in a separate room. Ethical clearance was obtained in all participating hospitals.
The overall percentage of IPV was 14.3% (95% CI: 12.7 - 16.0) 12 months before pregnancy and 10.6% (95% CI: 9.2 - 12.1) during pregnancy. Physical partner violence before as well as during pregnancy was reported by 2.5% (95% CI: 1.7 - 3.3) of the respondents (n = 1894), sexual violence by 0.9% (95% CI 0.5 - 1.4), and psychological abuse by 14.9% (95% CI: 13.3 - 16.7). Risk factors identified for IPV were being single or divorced, having a low level of education, and choosing another language than Dutch to fill out the questionnaire. The adjusted analysis showed that physical partner violence (aOR 0.35, 95% CI: 0.22 - 0.56) and psychological partner abuse (aOR 0.7, 95% CI: 0.63 - 0.79) were significantly lower during pregnancy compared to the period of 12 months before pregnancy. The difference between both time periods is greater for physical partner violence (65%) compared to psychological partner abuse (30%). The analysis of the frequency data showed a similarly significant evolution for physical partner violence and psychological partner abuse, but not for sexual violence.
The IPV prevalence rates in our study are slightly lower than what can be found in other Western studies, but even so IPV is to be considered a prevalent problem before and during pregnancy. We found evidence, however, that physical partner violence and psychological partner abuse are significantly lower during pregnancy.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-294) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4159505  PMID: 25169813
Intimate partner violence; Abuse; Pregnancy; Prevalence; Evolution; Pattern
13.  Women's Empowerment and Contraceptive Use: The Role of Independent versus Couples' Decision-Making, from a Lower Middle Income Country Perspective 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e104633.
There is little available evidence of associations between the various dimensions of women's empowerment and contraceptive use having been examined - and of how these associations are mediated by women's socio-economic and demographic statuses. We assessed these phenomena in Pakistan using a structured-framework approach.
We analyzed data on 2,133 women who were either using any form of contraceptive or living with unmet need for contraception. The survey was conducted during May - June 2012, with married women of reproductive age (15–49 years) in three districts of Punjab. The dimensions of empowerment were categorized broadly into: economic decision-making, household decision-making, and women's mobility. Two measures were created for each dimension, and for the overall empowerment: women's independent decisions, and those taken jointly by couples. Contraceptive use was categorized as either female-only or couple methods on the basis of whether a method requires the awareness of, or some support and cooperation from, the husband. Multinomial regression was used, by means of Odds Ratios (OR), to assess associations between empowerment dimensions and female-only and couple contraceptive methods.
Overall, women tend to get higher decision-making power with increased age, higher literacy, a greater number of children, or being in a household that has superior socio-economic status. The measures for couples' decision-making for overall empowerment and for each dimension of it showed positive associations with couple methods as well as with female-only methods. The only exception was the measure of economic empowerment, which was associated only with the couple method.
Couples' joint decision-making is a stronger determinant of the use of contraceptive methods than women-only decision-making. This is the case over and above the contribution of women's socio-demographic and economic statuses. Effort needs to be made to educate women and their husbands equally, with particular focus on highly effective contraceptive methods.
PMCID: PMC4131908  PMID: 25119727
14.  Maternal and perinatal health research priorities beyond 2015: an international survey and prioritization exercise 
Reproductive Health  2014;11:61.
Maternal mortality has declined by nearly half since 1990, but over a quarter million women still die every year of causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Maternal-health related targets are falling short of the 2015 Millennium Development Goals and a post-2015 Development Agenda is emerging. In connection with this, setting global research priorities for the next decade is now required.
We adapted the methods of the Child Health and Nutrition Research Initiative (CHNRI) to identify and set global research priorities for maternal and perinatal health for the period 2015 to 2025. Priority research questions were received from various international stakeholders constituting a large reference group, and consolidated into a final list of research questions by a technical working group. Questions on this list were then scored by the reference working group according to five independent and equally weighted criteria. Normalized research priority scores (NRPS) were calculated, and research priority questions were ranked accordingly.
A list of 190 priority research questions for improving maternal and perinatal health was scored by 140 stakeholders. Most priority research questions (89%) were concerned with the evaluation of implementation and delivery of existing interventions, with research subthemes frequently concerned with training and/or awareness interventions (11%), and access to interventions and/or services (14%). Twenty-one questions (11%) involved the discovery of new interventions or technologies.
Key research priorities in maternal and perinatal health were identified. The resulting ranked list of research questions provides a valuable resource for health research investors, researchers and other stakeholders. We are hopeful that this exercise will inform the post-2015 Development Agenda and assist donors, research-policy decision makers and researchers to invest in research that will ultimately make the most significant difference in the lives of mothers and babies.
PMCID: PMC4132282  PMID: 25100034
Research priorities; CHNRI; Maternal and perinatal health
15.  A cross-sectional study on attitudes toward gender equality, sexual behavior, positive sexual experiences, and communication about sex among sexually active and non-sexually active adolescents in Bolivia and Ecuador 
Global Health Action  2014;7:10.3402/gha.v7.24089.
It is widely agreed upon that gender is a key aspect of sexuality however, questions remain on how gender exactly influences adolescents’ sexual health.
The aim of this research was to study correlations between gender equality attitudes and sexual behavior, sexual experiences and communication about sex among sexually active and non-sexually active adolescents in 2 Latin American countries.
In 2011, a cross-sectional study was carried out among 5,913 adolescents aged 14–18 in 20 secondary schools in Cochabamba (Bolivia) and 6 secondary schools in Cuenca (Ecuador). Models were built using logistic regressions to assess the predictive value of attitudes toward gender equality on adolescents’ sexual behavior, on experiences and on communication.
The analysis shows that sexually active adolescents who consider gender equality as important report higher current use of contraceptives within the couple. They are more likely to describe their last sexual intercourse as a positive experience and consider it easier to talk with their partner about sexuality than sexually experienced adolescents who are less positively inclined toward gender equality. These correlations remained consistent whether the respondent was a boy or a girl. Non-sexually active adolescents, who consider gender equality to be important, are more likely to think that sexual intercourse is a positive experience. They consider it less necessary to have sexual intercourse to maintain a relationship and find it easier to communicate with their girlfriend or boyfriend than sexually non-active adolescents who consider gender equality to be less important. Comparable results were found for boys and girls.
Our results suggest that gender equality attitudes have a positive impact on adolescents’ sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and wellbeing. Further research is necessary to better understand the relationship between gender attitudes and specific SRH outcomes such as unwanted teenage pregnancies and sexual pleasure among adolescents worldwide.
PMCID: PMC4095758  PMID: 25024066
adolescents; gender attitudes; Latin America; sexual behavior; positive sexual experiences
16.  A study protocol: using demand-side financing to meet the birth spacing needs of the underserved in Punjab Province in Pakistan 
Reproductive Health  2014;11:39.
High fertility rates, unwanted pregnancies, low modern contraceptive prevalence and a huge unmet need for contraception adversely affect women’s health in Pakistan and this problem is compounded by limited access to reliable information and quality services regarding birth spacing especially in rural and underserved areas. This paper presents a study protocol that describes an evaluation of a demand-side financing (DSF) voucher approach which aims to increase the uptake of modern contraception among women of the lowest two wealth quintiles in Punjab Province, Pakistan.
This study will use quasi-experimental design with control arm and be implemented in: six government clinics from the Population Welfare Department; 24 social franchise facilities branded as ‘Suraj’ (Sun), led by Marie Stopes Society (a local non-governmental organization); and 12 private sector clinics in Chakwal, Mianwali and Bhakkar districts. The study respondents will be interviewed at baseline and endline subject to voluntary acceptance and medical eligibility. In addition, health service data will record each client visit during the study period.
The study will examine the impact of vouchers in terms of increasing the uptake of modern contraception by engaging private and public sector service providers (mid-level and medical doctors). If found effective, this approach can be a viable solution to satisfying the current demand and meeting the unmet need for contraception, particularly among the poorest socio-economic group.
PMCID: PMC4059733  PMID: 24885657
Demand-side financing; Voucher; Social franchising; Quasi-experimental; Maternal health; Unmet need for modern contraception; Birth spacing; Study protocol; Punjab; Pakistan
17.  Implementation of evidence-based antenatal care in Mozambique: a cluster randomized controlled trial: study protocol 
Antenatal care (ANC) reduces maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality directly through the detection and treatment of pregnancy-related illnesses, and indirectly through the detection of women at increased risk of delivery complications. The potential benefits of quality antenatal care services are most significant in low-resource countries where morbidity and mortality levels among women of reproductive age and neonates are higher.
WHO developed an ANC model that recommended the delivery of services scientifically proven to improve maternal, perinatal and neonatal outcomes. The aim of this study is to determine the effect of an intervention designed to increase the use of the package of evidence-based services included in the WHO ANC model in Mozambique. The primary hypothesis is that the intervention will increase the use of evidence-based practices during ANC visits in comparison to the standard dissemination channels currently used in the country.
This is a demonstration project to be developed through a facility-based cluster randomized controlled trial with a stepped wedge design. The intervention was tailored, based on formative research findings, to be readily applicable to local prenatal care services and acceptable to local pregnant women and health providers. The intervention includes four components: the provision of kits with all necessary medicines and laboratory supplies for ANC (medical and non-medical equipment), a storage system, a tracking system, and training sessions for health care providers. Ten clinics were selected and will start receiving the intervention in a random order. Outcomes will be computed at each time point when a new clinic starts the intervention. The primary outcomes are the delivery of selected health care practices to women attending the first ANC visit, and secondary outcomes are the delivery of selected health care practices to women attending second and higher ANC visits as well as the attitude of midwives in relation to adopting the practices. This demonstration project is pragmatic in orientation and will be conducted under routine conditions.
There is an urgent need for effective and sustainable scaling-up approaches of health interventions in low-resource countries. This can only be accomplished by the engagement of the country’s health stakeholders at all levels. This project aims to achieve improvement in the quality of antenatal care in Mozambique through the implementation of a multifaceted intervention on three levels: policy, organizational and health care delivery levels. The implementation of the trial will probably require a change in accountability and behaviour of health care providers and we expect this change in ‘habits’ will contribute to obtaining reliable health indicators, not only related to research issues, but also to health care outcomes derived from the new health care model. At policy level, the results of this study may suggest a need for revision of the supply chain management system. Given that supply chain management is a major challenge for many low-resource countries, we envisage that important lessons on how to improve the supply chain in Mozambique and other similar settings, will be drawn from this study.
Trial registration
Pan African Clinical Trial Registry database. Identification number: PACTR201306000550192.
PMCID: PMC4057585  PMID: 24886392
Antenatal care; Pregnancy
18.  Sexual violence and sub-Saharan migrants in Morocco: a community-based participatory assessment using respondent driven sampling 
The European Union contracted Morocco to regulate migration from so-called “transit migrants” from Morocco to Europe via the European Neighbourhood Policy. Yet, international organisations signal that human, asylum and refugee rights are not upheld in Morocco and that many sub-Saharan migrants suffer from ill-health and violence. Hence, our study aimed at 1) investigating the nature of violence that sub-Saharan migrants experience around and in Morocco, 2) assessing which determinants they perceive as decisive and 3) formulating prevention recommendations.
Applying Community-Based Participatory Research, we trained twelve sub-Saharan migrants as Community Researchers to conduct in-depth interviews with peers, using Respondent Driven Sampling. We used Nvivo 8 to analyse the data. We interpreted results with Community Researchers and the Community Advisory Board and commonly formulated prevention recommendations.
Among the 154 (60 F-94 M) sub-Saharan migrants interviewed, 90% reported cases of multiple victimizations, 45% of which was sexual, predominantly gang rape. Seventy-nine respondents were personally victimized, 41 were forced to witness how relatives or co-migrants were victimized and 18 others knew of peer victimisation. Severe long lasting ill-health consequences were reported while sub-Saharan victims are not granted access to the official health care system. Perpetrators were mostly Moroccan or Algerian officials and sub-Saharan gang leaders who function as unofficial yet rigorous migration professionals at migration ‘hubs’. They seem to proceed in impunity. Respondents link risk factors mainly to their undocumented and unprotected status and suggest that migrant communities set-up awareness raising campaigns on risks while legal and policy changes enforcing human rights, legal protection and human treatment of migrants along with severe punishment of perpetrators are politically lobbied for.
Sub-Saharan migrants are at high risk of sexual victimization and subsequent ill-health in and around Morocco. Comprehensive cross-border and multi-level prevention actions are urgently called for. Given the European Neighbourhood Policy, we deem it paramount that the European Union politically cares for these migrants’ lives and health, takes up its responsibility, drastically changes migration regulation into one that upholds human rights beyond survival and enforces all authorities involved to restore migrants’ lives worthy to be lived again.
PMCID: PMC4122073  PMID: 24885537
Sexual violence; Rape; Prevention; Migrants; Morocco; Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR); Respondent Driven Sampling (RDS); European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP)
19.  Sexual health is dead in my body: participatory assessment of sexual health determinants by refugees, asylum seekers and undocumented migrants in Belgium and the Netherlands 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:416.
Although migrants constitute an important proportion of the European population, little is known about migrant sexual health. Existing research mainly focuses on migrants’ sexual health risks and accessibility issues while recommendations on adequate sexual health promotion are rarely provided. Hence, this paper explores how refugees, asylum seekers and undocumented migrants in Belgium and the Netherlands define sexual health, search for sexual health information and perceive sexual health determinants.
Applying Community-based Participatory Research as the overarching research approach, we conducted 223 in-depth interviews with refugees, asylum seekers and undocumented migrants in Belgium and the Netherlands. The Framework Analysis Technique was used to analyse qualitative data. We checked the extensiveness of the qualitative data and analysed the quantitative socio-demographic data with SPSS.
Our results indicate that gender and age do not appear to be decisive determinants. However, incorporated cultural norms and education attainment are important to consider in desirable sexual health promotion in refugees, asylum seekers and undocumented migrants in Belgium and the Netherlands. Furthermore, our results demonstrate that these migrants have a predominant internal health locus of control. Yet, most of them feel that this personal attitude is hugely challenged by the Belgian and Dutch asylum system and migration laws which force them into a structural dependent situation inducing sexual ill-health.
Refugees, asylum seekers and undocumented migrants in Belgium and the Netherlands are at risk of sexual ill-health. Incorporated cultural norms and attained education are important determinants to address in desirable sexual health promotion. Yet, as their legal status demonstrates to be the key determinant, the prime concern is to alter organizational and societal factors linked to the Belgian and Dutch asylum system. Refugees, asylum seekers and undocumented migrants in Belgium and the Netherlands should be granted the same opportunity as Belgian and Dutch citizens have, to become equally in control of their sexual health and sexuality.
PMCID: PMC4012172  PMID: 24886093
Sexual health; Sexuality; Health determinants; Migrants; Refugees; Asylum seekers; Undocumented; Health locus of control; Community-based participatory research
20.  Identifying factors associated with the uptake of prevention of mother to child HIV transmission programme in Tigray region, Ethiopia: a multilevel modeling approach 
Prevention of mother to child HIV transmission (PMTCT) remains a challenge in low and middle-income countries. Determinants of utilization occur – and often interact - at both individual and community levels, but most studies do not address how determinants interact across levels. Multilevel models allow for the importance of both groups and individuals in understanding health outcomes and provide one way to link the traditionally distinct ecological- and individual-level studies. This study examined individual and community level determinants of mother and child receiving PMTCT services in Tigray region, Ethiopia.
A multistage probability sampling method was used for this 2011 cross-sectional study of 220 HIV positive post-partum women attending child immunization services at 50 health facilities in 46 districts. In view of the nested nature of the data, we used multilevel modeling methods and assessed macro level random effects.
Seventy nine percent of mothers and 55.7% of their children had received PMTCT services. Multivariate multilevel modeling found that mothers who delivered at a health facility were 18 times (AOR = 18.21; 95% CI 4.37,75.91) and children born at a health facility were 5 times (AOR = 4.77; 95% CI 1.21,18.83) more likely to receive PMTCT services, compared to mothers delivering at home. For every addition of one nurse per 1500 people, the likelihood of getting PMTCT services for a mother increases by 7.22 fold (AOR = 7.22; 95% CI 1.02,51.26), when other individual and community level factors were controlled simultaneously. In addition, district-level variation was low for mothers receiving PMTCT services (0.6% between districts) but higher for children (27.2% variation between districts).
This study, using a multilevel modeling approach, was able to identify factors operating at both individual and community levels that affect mothers and children getting PMTCT services. This may allow differentiating and accentuating approaches for different settings in Ethiopia. Increasing health facility delivery and HCT coverage could increase mother-child pairs who are getting PMTCT. Reducing the distance to health facility and increasing the number of nurses and laboratory technicians are also important variables to be considered by the government.
PMCID: PMC4022443  PMID: 24755368
21.  Spousal discordance on fertility preference and its effect on contraceptive practice among married couples in Jimma zone, Ethiopia 
Reproductive Health  2014;11:27.
To assess spousal agreement levels regarding fertility preference and spousal communication, and to look at how it affects contraceptive use by couples.
We conducted a cross-sectional study to collect quantitative data from March to May 2010 in Jimma zone, Ethiopia, using a multistage sampling design covering six districts. In each of the 811 couples included in the survey, both spouses were interviewed. Concordance between the husband and wife was assessed using different statistics and tests including concordance rates, ANOVA, Cohen’s Κ and McNemar’s test for paired samples. Multivariate analysis was computed to ascertain factors associated with contraceptive use.
Over half of the couples wanted more children and 27.8% of the spouses differed about the desire for more children. In terms of sex preference, there was a 48.7% discord in couples who wanted to have more children. At large, spousal concordance on the importance of family planning was positive. However, it was the husband’s favourable attitude towards family planning that determined a couple’s use of contraception. Overall, contraceptive prevalence was 42.9%. Among the groups with the highest level of contraceptive users, were couples where the husband does not want any more children. Spousal communication about the decision to use contraception showed a positive association with a couple’s contraceptive prevalence.
Family planning programs aiming to increase contraceptive uptake could benefit from findings on spousal agreement regarding fertility desire, because the characteristics of each spouse influences the couple’s fertility level. Disparities between husband and wife about the desire for more children sustain the need for male consideration while analysing the unmet need for contraception. Moreover, men play a significant role in the decision making concerning contraceptive use. Accordingly, involving men in family planning programs could increase a couple’s contraceptive practice in the future.
PMCID: PMC3983854  PMID: 24708827
Fertility preference; Couples; Contraception; Spousal discordance
22.  Effects of hazardous and harmful alcohol use on HIV incidence and sexual behaviour: a cohort study of Kenyan female sex workers 
To investigate putative links between alcohol use, and unsafe sex and incident HIV infection in sub-Saharan Africa.
A cohort of 400 HIV-negative female sex workers was established in Mombasa, Kenya. Associations between categories of the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) and the incidence at one year of unsafe sex, HIV and pregnancy were assessed using Cox proportional hazards models. Violence or STIs other than HIV measured at one year was compared across AUDIT categories using multivariate logistic regression.
Participants had high levels of hazardous (17.3%, 69/399) and harmful drinking (9.5%, 38/399), while 36.1% abstained from alcohol. Hazardous and harmful drinkers had more unprotected sex and higher partner numbers than abstainers. Sex while feeling drunk was frequent and associated with lower condom use. Occurrence of condom accidents rose step-wise with each increase in AUDIT category. Compared with non-drinkers, women with harmful drinking had 4.1-fold higher sexual violence (95% CI adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.9-8.9) and 8.4 higher odds of physical violence (95% CI AOR = 3.9-18.0), while hazardous drinkers had 3.1-fold higher physical violence (95% CI AOR = 1.7-5.6). No association was detected between AUDIT category and pregnancy, or infection with Syphilis or Trichomonas vaginalis. The adjusted hazard ratio of HIV incidence was 9.6 comparing women with hazardous drinking to non-drinkers (95% CI = 1.1-87.9).
Unsafe sex, partner violence and HIV incidence were higher in women with alcohol use disorders. This prospective study, using validated alcohol measures, indicates that harmful or hazardous alcohol can influence sexual behaviour. Possible mechanisms include increased unprotected sex, condom accidents and exposure to sexual violence. Experimental evidence is required demonstrating that interventions to reduce alcohol use can avert unsafe sex.
PMCID: PMC3985581  PMID: 24708844
Alcohol; Sub-Saharan Africa; HIV prevention; Cohort study; Kenya; AUDIT test
23.  Attendance at Cervical Cancer Screening and Use of Diagnostic and Therapeutic Procedures on the Uterine Cervix Assessed from Individual Health Insurance Data (Belgium, 2002-2006) 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e92615.
To assess the coverage for cervical cancer screening as well as the use of cervical cytology, colposcopy and other diagnostic and therapeutic interventions on the uterine cervix in Belgium, using individual health insurance data.
The Intermutualistic Agency compiled a database containing 14 million records from reimbursement claims for Pap smears, colposcopies, cervical biopsies and surgery, performed between 2002 and 2006. Cervical cancer screening coverage was defined as the proportion of women aged 25–64 that had a Pap smear within the last 3 years.
Cervical cancer screening coverage was 61% at national level, for the target population of women between 25 and 64 years old, in the period 2004–2006. Differences between the 3 regions were small, but varied more substantially between provinces. Coverage was 70% for 25–34 year old women, 67% for those aged 35–39 years, and decreased to 44% in the age group of 60–64 years. The median screening interval was 13 months. The screening coverage varied substantially by social category: 40% and 64%, in women categorised as beneficiary or not-beneficiary of increased reimbursement from social insurance, respectively. In the 3-year period 2004–2006, 3.2 million screen tests were done in the target group consisting of 2.8 million women. However, only 1.7 million women got one or more smears and 1.1 million women had no smears, corresponding to an average of 1.88 smears per woman in three years of time. Colposcopy was excessively used (number of Pap smears over colposcopies = 3.2). The proportion of women with a history of conisation or hysterectomy, before the age of 65, was 7% and 19%, respectively.
The screening coverage increased slightly from 59% in 2000 to 61% in 2006. The screening intensity remained at a high level, and the number of cytological examinations was theoretically sufficient to cover more than the whole target population.
PMCID: PMC3972167  PMID: 24690620
24.  Newborn care in Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic and the Philippines: a comprehensive needs assessment 
BMC Pediatrics  2014;14:46.
Between 1990 and 2011, global neonatal mortality decline was slower than that of under-five mortality. As a result, the proportion of under-five deaths due to neonatal mortality increased. This increase is primarily a consequence of decreasing post-neonatal and child under-five mortality as a result of the typical focus of child survival programmes of the past two decades on diseases affecting children over four weeks of age. Newborns are lagging behind in improved child health outcomes. The aim of this study was to conduct a comprehensive, equity-focussed newborn care assessment and to explore options to improve newborn survival in Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) and the Philippines.
We assessed newborn health policies, services and care in the three countries through document review, interviews and health facility visits. Findings were triangulated to describe newborns’ health status, the health policy and the health system context for newborn care and the equity situation regarding newborn survival.
Main findings: (1) In the three countries, decline of neonatal mortality is lagging behind compared to that of under-five mortality. (2) Comprehensive newborn policies in line with international standards exist, although implementation remains poor. An important factor hampering implementation is decentralisation of the health sector, which created confusion regarding roles and responsibilities. Management capacity and skills at decentralised level were often found to be limited. (3) Quality of newborn care provided at primary healthcare and referral level is generally substandard. Limited knowledge and skills among providers of newborn care are contributing to poor quality of care. (4) Socio-economic and geographic inequities in newborn care are considerable.
Similar important challenges for newborn care have been identified in Indonesia, Lao PDR and the Philippines. There is an urgent need to address weak leadership and governance regarding newborn care, quality of newborn care provided and inequities in newborn care. Child survival programmes focussed on children over four weeks of age have shown to have positive outcomes. Similar efforts as those used in these programmes should be considered in newborn care.
PMCID: PMC3928581  PMID: 24528519
Newborn care; Needs assessment; Quality of care; Equity; Healthcare policy; South-East Asia
25.  It's about time: WHO and partners release programming strategies for postpartum family planning 
The postpartum period is a critical time to address high unmet family planning need and to reduce the risks of closely spaced pregnancies. Practical tools are included in the new resource for integrating postpartum family planning at points when women have frequent health system contact, including during antenatal care, labor and delivery, postnatal care, immunization, and child health care.
The postpartum period is a critical time to address high unmet family planning need and to reduce the risks of closely spaced pregnancies. Practical tools are included in the new resource for integrating postpartum family planning at points when women have frequent health system contact, including during antenatal care, labor and delivery, postnatal care, immunization, and child health care.
PMCID: PMC4168603  PMID: 25276558

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