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1.  Metaphors We Love By: Conceptualizations of Sex among Young People in Malawi 
This paper explores how young people in Malawi conceptualize sex and sexual relations through an analysis of their personal narratives about these phenomena. Eleven focus group discussions were conducted with 114 youth aged 14–19 years. Participants were asked to describe behaviors, attitudes, and motivations to reduce unplanned pregnancies and the spread of HIV/AIDS, with appropriate probes to illuminate their sexual world-views. The various metaphors that emanated from the discussions suggest that young people in this study take a utilitarian approach to sex, and conceive it as a natural and routine activity of which pleasure and passion are essential components. Future research and prevention efforts (around sexuality education in particular) would do well to incorporate adolescents’ language in programming as this can enhance understanding of the world of young people as well as the effectiveness of interventions addressing problems related to early sexual behavior.
PMCID: PMC2367139  PMID: 18458743
adolescents; sexuality; language; sexuality education; rights-based approaches; Malawi; sub-Saharan Africa
2.  Feasibility and effect of integrating tuberculosis screening and detection in postnatal care services: an operations research study 
Background
Tuberculosis still remains a major cause of maternal and newborn morbidity and mortality. Integrating tuberculosis screening and detection into postnatal care services ensures prompt and appropriate treatment for affected mothers and their babies. This study therefore examined the feasibility and effect of screening and referral for tuberculosis within postnatal care settings from the perspective of providers.
Methods
This operations research study used a pre- and post-intervention design without a comparison group. The study was implemented between March 2009 and August 2010 in five health facilities located in low-income areas of Nairobi, Kenya, which were suspected to have relatively high prevalence of both tuberculosis and HIV. Descriptive statistics and significance tests were employed to determine changes in the indicators of interest between baseline and endline.
Results
Among the 12,604 postnatal care clients screened, 14 tuberculosis cases were diagnosed. The proportion of clients screened for at least one cardinal sign of tuberculosis rose from 4% to 66%, and 21% of clients were screened for all six tracer signs and symptoms. A comparison of 10 quality of postnatal care and tuberculosis screening components at baseline and endline showed a highly significant effect on all 10 components.
Conclusions
The findings demonstrate that using postnatal care services as a platform for tuberculosis screening and detection is acceptable and feasible. In addition, linking clients identified through screening to further treatment significantly improved. However, the actual number of cases detected was low. A policy debate on whether to link tuberculosis screening with reproductive health services is recommended before full scale-up of this intervention.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-99
PMCID: PMC3602180  PMID: 23496997
Postnatal care; Tuberculosis screening; Tuberculosis detection
3.  Exploring the effectiveness of the output-based aid voucher program to increase uptake of gender-based violence recovery services in Kenya: A qualitative evaluation 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:426.
Background
Few studies in Africa have explored in detail the ability of output-based aid (OBA) voucher programs to increase access to gender-based violence recovery (GBVR) services.
Methods
A qualitative study was conducted in 2010 and involved: (i) in-depth interviews (IDIs) with health managers, service providers, voucher management agency (VMA) managers and (ii) focus group discussions (FGDs) with voucher users, voucher non-users, voucher distributors and opinion leaders drawn from five program sites in Kenya.
Results
The findings showed promising prospects for the uptake of OBA GBVR services among target population. However, a number of factors affect the uptake of the services. These include lack of general awareness of the GBVR services vouchers, lack of understanding of the benefit package, immediate financial needs of survivors, as well as stigma and cultural beliefs that undermine reporting of cases or seeking essential medical services. Moreover, accreditation of only hospitals to offer GBVR services undermines access to the services in rural areas. Poor responsiveness from law enforcement agencies and fear of reprisal from perpetrators also undermine treatment options and access to medical services. Low provider knowledge on GBVR services and lack of supplies also affect effective provision and management of GBVR services.
Conclusions
The above findings suggest that there is a need to build the capacity of health care providers and police officers, strengthen the community strategy component of the OBA program to promote the GBVR services voucher, and conduct widespread community education programs aimed at prevention, ensuring survivors know how and where to access services and addressing stigma and cultural barriers.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-426
PMCID: PMC3413608  PMID: 22691436
Voucher program; Gender-based violence recovery services; Health service utilization; Kenya
5.  Unpacking rights in indigenous African societies: indigenous culture and the question of sexual and reproductive rights in Africa 
Background
Modern declarations on human rights have often proceeded without reference to the cultural content of rights, the existence of rights in African indigenous backgrounds, and the embodiment of certain key rights in the community itself. This paper is an attempt at developing an ‘inventory’ of rights in African cultures as a prelude to the generation both of a holistic theory of rights as well as a research agenda that can recognize the multifaceted nature of rights.
Methods
We use an interpretive ethnographic approach built on three sources of data: 1) our continuing ethnographic work among two distinct ethnic groups in southeastern Nigeria – the Ubang and the Igbo; 2) informal conversational interviews with individuals from a range of African countries; and 3) a review of relevant literature based on African cultures which provides a context for some of the issues we raise.
Results
An examination of selected indigenous rights, entitlements, or privileges among the Ubang and Igbo illustrates indigenous culture as a key, but often neglected, axis of rights, as a critical framework for understanding human relationships with rights, and as a resource for, and challenge to, contemporary programmatic efforts focusing on universalized notions of rights. Understanding or interpreting rights in African settings within the framework defined by contemporary human rights discourse poses steep challenges to making progress in the realization of sexual and reproductive rights.
Conclusions
Despite the potential dangers of privileging group rights over individual rights, when important rights are vested in the community; rights, entitlements, and privileges can also be recognized through community experiences, and realized through engagement with communities. Building on communal conceptualizations of rights in order to realize an even wider range of rights remains a largely unexplored strategy which holds promise for the achievement of sexual and reproductive health rights.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-11-S3-S2
PMCID: PMC3287458  PMID: 22375959
6.  Engaging media in communicating research on sexual and reproductive health and rights in sub-Saharan Africa: experiences and lessons learned 
Background
The mass media have excellent potential to promote good sexual and reproductive health outcomes, but around the world, media often fail to prioritize sexual and reproductive health and rights issues or report them in an accurate manner. In sub-Saharan Africa media coverage of reproductive health issues is poor due to the weak capacity and motivation for reporting these issues by media practitioners. This paper describes the experiences of the African Population and Health Research Center and its partners in cultivating the interest and building the capacity of the media in evidence-based reporting of reproductive health issues in sub-Saharan Africa.
Methods
The paper utilizes a case study approach based primarily on the personal experiences and reflections of the authors (who played a central role in developing and implementing the Center’s communication and policy engagement strategies), a survey that the Center carried out with science journalists in Kenya, and literature review.
Results
The African Population and Health Research Center’s media strategy evolved over the years, moving beyond conventional ways of communicating research through the media via news releases and newspaper stories, to varying approaches that sought to inspire and build the capacity of journalists to do evidence-based reporting of reproductive health issues. Specifically, the approach included 1) enhancing journalists’ interest in and motivation for reporting on reproductive health issues through training and competitive grants for outstanding reporting ; 2) building the capacity of journalists to report reproductive health research and the capacity of reproductive health researchers to communicate their research to media through training for both parties and providing technical assistance to journalists in obtaining and interpreting evidence; and 3) establishing and maintaining trust and mutual relationships between journalists and researchers through regular informal meetings between journalists and researchers, organizing field visits for journalists, and building formal partnerships with professional media associations and individual journalists.
Conclusion
Our experiences and reflections, and the experiences of others reviewed in this paper, indicate that a sustained mix of strategies that motivate, strengthen capacity of, and build relationships between journalists and researchers can be effective in enhancing quality and quantity of media coverage of research.
doi:10.1186/1478-4505-9-S1-S7
PMCID: PMC3121138  PMID: 21679388

Results 1-6 (6)