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author:("Mumtaz, dubia")
1.  Navigating maternity health care: a survey of the Canadian prairie newcomer experience 
Background
Immigration to Canada has significantly increased in recent years, particularly in the Prairie Provinces. There is evidence that pregnant newcomer women often encounter challenges when attempting to navigate the health system. Our aim was to explore newcomer women’s experiences in Canada regarding pregnancy, delivery and postpartum care and to assess the degree to which Canada provides equitable access to pregnancy and delivery services.
Methods
Data were obtained from the Canadian Maternity Experiences Survey. Women (N = 6,241) participated in structured computer-assisted telephone interviews. Women from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba were included in this analysis. A total of 140 newcomers (arriving in Canada after 1996) and 1137 Canadian-born women met inclusion criteria.
Results
Newcomers were more likely to be university graduates, but had lower incomes than Canadian-born women. No differences were found in newcomer ability to access acceptable prenatal care, although fewer received information regarding emotional and physical changes during pregnancy. Rates of C-sections were higher for newcomers than Canadian-born women (36.1% vs. 24.7%, p = 0.02). Newcomers were also more likely to be placed in stirrups for birth and have an assisted birth.
Conclusion
Although newcomers residing in Prairie Provinces receive adequate maternity care, improvements are needed with respect to provision of information related to postpartum depression and informed choice around the need for C-sections.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-4
PMCID: PMC3890634  PMID: 24393386
Maternity services; Prairie Provinces Canada; Newcomer experiences; Maternity experiences survey
2.  Influence of gender roles and rising food prices on poor, pregnant women’s eating and food provisioning practices in Dhaka, Bangladesh 
Reproductive Health  2013;10:53.
Background
Maternal malnutrition in Bangladesh is a persistent health issue and is the product of a number of complex factors, including adherence to food 'taboos’ and a patriarchal gender order that limits women’s mobility and decision-making. The recent global food price crisis is also negatively impacting poor pregnant women’s access to food. It is believed that those who are most acutely affected by rising food prices are the urban poor. While there is an abundance of useful quantitative research centered on maternal nutrition and food insecurity measurements in Bangladesh, missing is an understanding of how food insecurity is experienced by people who are most vulnerable, the urban ultra-poor. In particular, little is known of the lived experience of food insecurity among pregnant women in this context. This research investigated these lived experiences by exploring food provisioning strategies of urban, ultra-poor, pregnant women. This knowledge is important as discussions surrounding the creation of new development goals are currently underway.
Methods
Using a focused-ethnographic approach, household food provisioning experiences were explored. Data from participant observation, a focus group discussion and semi-structured interviews were collected in an urban slum in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Interviews were undertaken with 28 participants including 12 pregnant women and new mothers, two husbands, nine non-pregnant women, and five health care workers.
Results
The key findings are: 1) women were aware of the importance of good nutrition and demonstrated accurate, biomedically-based knowledge of healthy eating practices during pregnancy; 2) the normative gender rules that have traditionally constrained women’s access to nutritional resources are relaxing in the urban setting; however 3) women are challenged in accessing adequate quality and quantities of food due to the increase in food prices at the market.
Conclusions
Rising food prices and resultant food insecurity due to insufficient incomes are negating the recent efforts that have increased women’s knowledge of healthy eating during pregnancy and their gendered empowerment. In order to maintain the gains in nutritional knowledge and women’s increased mobility and decision-making capacity; policy must also consider the global political economy of food in the creation of the new development goals.
doi:10.1186/1742-4755-10-53
PMCID: PMC3849683  PMID: 24069937
Maternal malnutrition; Pregnancy; Gender; Women; Food insecurity; Urban; Ultra-poor; Bangladesh
3.  “I have to do what I believe”: Sudanese women’s beliefs and resistance to hegemonic practices at home and during experiences of maternity care in Canada 
Background
Evidence suggests that immigrant women having different ethnocultural backgrounds than those dominant in the host country have difficulty during their access to and reception of maternity care services, but little knowledge exists on how factors such as ethnic group and cultural beliefs intersect and influence health care access and outcomes. Amongst immigrant populations in Canada, refugee women are one of the most vulnerable groups and pregnant women with immediate needs for health care services may be at higher risk of health problems. This paper describes findings from the qualitative dimension of a mixed-methodological study.
Methods
A focused ethnographic approach was conducted in 2010 with Sudanese women living in an urban Canadian city. Focus group interviews were conducted to map out the experiences of these women in maternity care, particularly with respect to the challenges faced when attempting to use health care services.
Results
Twelve women (mean age 36.6 yrs) having experience using maternity services in Canada within the past two years participated. The findings revealed that there are many beliefs that impact upon behaviours and perceptions during the perinatal period. Traditionally, the women mostly avoid anything that they believe could harm themselves or their babies. Pregnancy and delivery were strongly believed to be natural events without need for special attention or intervention. Furthermore, the sub-Saharan culture supports the dominance of the family by males and the ideology of patriarchy. Pregnancy and birth are events reflecting a certain empowerment for women, and the women tend to exert control in ways that may or may not be respected by their husbands. Individual choices are often made to foster self and outward-perceptions of managing one’s affairs with strength.
Conclusion
In today’s multicultural society there is a strong need to avert misunderstandings, and perhaps harm, through facilitating cultural awareness and competency of care rather than misinterpretations of resistance to care.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-13-51
PMCID: PMC3599128  PMID: 23442448
Canada; Sudanese; Beliefs; Culture; Focused ethnography; Maternity; Refugee; Pregnancy
4.  Understanding the impact of gendered roles on the experiences of infertility amongst men and women in Punjab 
Reproductive Health  2013;10:3.
While infertility is a global challenge for millions of couples, low income countries have particularly high rates, of up to 30%. Infertility in these contexts is not limited to its clinical definition but is a socially constructed notion with varying definitions. In highly pronatalistic and patriarchal societies like Pakistan, women bear the brunt of the social, emotional and physical consequences of childlessness. While the often harsh consequences of childlessness for Pakistani women have been widely documented, there is a dearth of exploration into the ways in which prescribed gender roles inform the experiences of childlessness among Pakistani women and men. The aim of this study was to explore and compare how gender ideologies, values and expectations shape women’s and men’s experiences of infertility in Pakistan. Using an interpretive descriptive approach, in-depth interviews were conducted with 12 women and 8 men experiencing childlessness in Punjab, Pakistan from April to May 2008. Data analysis was thematic and inductive based on the principles of content analysis. The experience of infertility for men and women is largely determined by their prescribed gender roles. Childlessness weakened marital bonds with gendered consequences. For women, motherhood is not only a source of status and power, it is the only avenue for women to ensure their marital security. Weak marital ties did not affect men’s social identity, security or power. Women also face harsher psychosocial, social, emotional and physical consequences of childlessness than men. They experienced abuse, exclusion and stigmatization at the couple, household and societal level, while men only experienced minor taunting from friends. Women unceasingly sought invasive infertility treatments, while most men assumed there was nothing wrong with themselves. This study highlights the ways in which gender roles and norms shape the experiences associated with involuntary childlessness for men and women in Punjab, Pakistan. The insight obtained into the range of experiences can potentially contribute to deeper understanding of the social construction of infertility and childlessness in pronatalistic and patriarchal societies as well as the ways in which gender ideologies operationalise to marginalise women.
doi:10.1186/1742-4755-10-3
PMCID: PMC3562138  PMID: 23317173
5.  Gender and social geography: Impact on Lady Health Workers Mobility in Pakistan 
Background
In Pakistan, where gendered norms restrict women's mobility, female community health workers (CHWs) provide doorstep primary health services to home-bound women. The program has not achieved optimal functioning. One reason, I argue, may be that the CHWs are unable to make home visits because they have to operate within the same gender system that necessitated their appointment in the first place. Ethnographic research shows that women’s mobility in Pakistan is determined not so much by physical geography as by social geography (the analysis of social phenomena in space). Irrespective of physical location, the presence of biradaria members (extended family) creates a socially acceptable ‘inside space’ to which women are limited. The presence of a non-biradari person, especially a man, transforms any space into an ‘outside space’, forbidden space. This study aims to understand how these cultural norms affect CHWs’ home-visit rates and the quality of services delivered.
Design
Data will be collected in district Attock, Punjab. Twenty randomly selected CHWs will first be interviewed to explore their experiences of delivering doorstep services in the context of gendered norms that promote women's seclusion. Each CHW will be requested to draw a map of her catchment area using social mapping techniques. These maps will be used to survey women of reproductive age to assess variations in the CHW's home visitation rates and quality of family planning services provided. A sample size of 760 households (38 per CHW) is estimated to have the power to detect, with 95% confidence, households the CHWs do not visit. To explore the role of the larger community in shaping the CHWs mobility experiences, 25 community members will be interviewed and five CHWs observed as they conduct their home visits. The survey data will be merged with the maps to demonstrate if any disjunctures exist between CHWs’ social geography and physical geography. Furthermore, the impacts these geographies have on home visitation rates and quality of services delivered will be explored.
Discussion
The study will provide generic and theoretical insights into how the CHW program policies and operations can improve working conditions to facilitate the work of female staff in order to ultimately provide high-quality services.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-12-360
PMCID: PMC3524461  PMID: 23066890
Reproductive health services; Primary health care services; Pakistan; Family planning; Community health workers; Lady health worker; Gender; Women’s mobility; Social geography; Mixed methods
6.  Are community midwives addressing the inequities in access to skilled birth attendance in Punjab, Pakistan? Gender, class and social exclusion 
Background
Pakistan is one of the six countries estimated to contribute to over half of all maternal deaths worldwide. To address its high maternal mortality rate, in particular the inequities in access to maternal health care services, the government of Pakistan created a new cadre of community-based midwives (CMW). A key expectation is that the CMWs will improve access to skilled antenatal and intra-partum care for the poor and disadvantaged women. A critical gap in our knowledge is whether this cadre of workers, operating in the private health care context, will meet the expectation to provide care to the poorest and most marginalized women. There is an inherent paradox between the notions of fee-for-service and increasing access to health care for the poorest who, by definition, are unable to pay.
Methods/Design
Data will be collected in three interlinked modules. Module 1 will consist of a population-based survey in the catchment areas of the CMW’s in districts Jhelum and Layyah in Punjab. Proportions of socially excluded women who are served by CMWs and their satisfaction levels with their maternity care provider will be assessed. Module 2 will explore, using an institutional ethnographic approach, the challenges (organizational, social, financial) that CMWs face in providing care to the poor and socially marginalized women. Module 3 will identify the social, financial, geographical and other barriers to uncover the hidden forces and power relations that shape the choices and opportunities of poor and marginalized women in accessing CMW services. An extensive knowledge dissemination plan will facilitate uptake of research findings to inform positive developments in maternal health policy, service design and care delivery in Pakistan.
Discussion
The findings of this study will enhance understanding of the power dynamics of gender and class that may underlie poor women’s marginalization from health care systems, including community midwifery care. One key outcome will be an increased sensitization of the special needs of socially excluded women, an otherwise invisible group. Another expectation is that the poor, socially excluded women will be targeted for provision of maternity care. The research will support the achievement of the 5th Millennium Development Goal in Pakistan.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-12-326
PMCID: PMC3507667  PMID: 22992347
Pregnancy and childbirth; Pakistan; Maternal health care; Skilled birth attendance; Community-based Midwives; Social exclusion; Inequity; Poverty; Gender; Class
7.  Addressing disparities in maternal health care in Pakistan: gender, class and exclusion 
Background
After more than two decades of the Safe Motherhood Initiative and Millennium Development Goals aimed at reducing maternal mortality, women continue to die in childbirth at unacceptably high rates in Pakistan. While an extensive literature describes various programmatic strategies, it neglects the rigorous analysis of the reasons these strategies have been unsuccessful, especially for women living at the economic and social margins of society. A critical gap in current knowledge is a detailed understanding of the root causes of disparities in maternal health care, and in particular, how gender and class influence policy formulation and the design and delivery of maternal health care services. Taking Pakistan as a case study, this research builds upon two distinct yet interlinked conceptual approaches to understanding the phenomenon of inequity in access to maternal health care: social exclusion and health systems as social institutions.
Methods/Design
This four year project consists of two interrelated modules that focus on two distinct groups of participants: (1) poor, disadvantaged women and men and (2) policy makers, program managers and health service providers. Module one will employ critical ethnography to understand the key axes of social exclusion as related to gender, class and zaat and how they affect women’s experiences of using maternal health care. Through health care setting observations, interviews and document review, Module two will assess policy design and delivery of maternal health services.
Discussion
This research will provide theoretical advances to enhance understanding of the power dynamics of gender and class that may underlie poor women’s marginalization from health care systems in Pakistan. It will also provide empirical evidence to support formulation of maternal health care policies and health care system practices aimed at reducing disparities in maternal health care in Pakistan. Lastly, it will enhance inter-disciplinary research capacity in the emerging field of social exclusion and maternal health and help reduce social inequities and achieve the Millennium Development Goal No. 5.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-80
PMCID: PMC3490894  PMID: 22871056
Social exclusion; Maternal health; Gender; Caste system; Pakistan; Health care system; Class; Health policy; Pregnancy and childbirth; Antenatal care
8.  Maternal deaths in Pakistan: intersection of gender, caste, and social exclusion 
Background
A key aim of countries with high maternal mortality rates is to increase availability of competent maternal health care during pregnancy and childbirth. Yet, despite significant investment, countries with the highest burdens have not reduced their rates to the expected levels. We argue, taking Pakistan as a case study, that improving physical availability of services is necessary but not sufficient for reducing maternal mortality because gender inequities interact with caste and poverty to socially exclude certain groups of women from health services that are otherwise physically available.
Methods
Using a critical ethnographic approach, two case studies of women who died during childbirth were pieced together from information gathered during the first six months of fieldwork in a village in Northern Punjab, Pakistan.
Findings
Shida did not receive the necessary medical care because her heavily indebted family could not afford it. Zainab, a victim of domestic violence, did not receive any medical care because her martial family could not afford it, nor did they think she deserved it. Both women belonged to lower caste households, which are materially poor households and socially constructed as inferior.
Conclusions
The stories of Shida and Zainab illustrate how a rigidly structured caste hierarchy, the gendered devaluing of females, and the reinforced lack of control that many impoverished women experience conspire to keep women from lifesaving health services that are physically available and should be at their disposal.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-11-S2-S4
PMCID: PMC3247835  PMID: 22165862
9.  Contributions and challenges of cross-national comparative research in migration, ethnicity and health: insights from a preliminary study of maternal health in Germany, Canada and the UK 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:514.
Background
Public health researchers are increasingly encouraged to establish international collaborations and to undertake cross-national comparative studies. To-date relatively few such studies have addressed migration, ethnicity and health, but their number is growing. While it is clear that divergent approaches to such comparative research are emerging, public health researchers have not so far given considered attention to the opportunities and challenges presented by such work. This paper contributes to this debate by drawing on the experience of a recent study focused on maternal health in Canada, Germany and the UK.
Discussion
The paper highlights various ways in which cross-national comparative research can potentially enhance the rigour and utility of research into migration, ethnicity and health, including by: forcing researchers to engage in both ideological and methodological critical reflexivity; raising awareness of the socially and historically embedded nature of concepts, methods and generated 'knowledge'; increasing appreciation of the need to situate analyses of health within the wider socio-political setting; helping researchers (and research users) to see familiar issues from new perspectives and find innovative solutions; encouraging researchers to move beyond fixed 'groups' and 'categories' to look at processes of identification, inclusion and exclusion; promoting a multi-level analysis of local, national and global influences on migrant/minority health; and enabling conceptual and methodological development through the exchange of ideas and experience between diverse research teams. At the same time, the paper alerts researchers to potential downsides, including: significant challenges to developing conceptual frameworks that are meaningful across contexts; a tendency to reify concepts and essentialise migrant/minority 'groups' in an effort to harmonize across countries; a danger that analyses are superficial, being restricted to independent country descriptions rather than generating integrated insights; difficulties of balancing the need for meaningful findings at country level and more holistic products; and increased logistical complexity and costs.
Summary
In view of these pros and cons, the paper encourages researchers to reflect more on the rationale for, feasibility and likely contribution of proposed cross-national comparative research that engages with migration, ethnicity and health and suggests some principles that could support such reflection.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-514
PMCID: PMC3146864  PMID: 21714893
10.  Meanings of blood, bleeding and blood donations in Pakistan: implications for national vs global safe blood supply policies 
Health Policy and Planning  2011;27(2):147-155.
Contemporary public policy, supported by international arbitrators of blood policy such as the World Health Organization and the International Federation of the Red Cross, asserts that the safest blood is that donated by voluntary, non-remunerated donors from low-risk groups of the population. These policies promote anonymous donation and discourage kin-based or replacement donation. However, there is reason to question whether these policies, based largely on Western research and beliefs, are the most appropriate for ensuring an adequate safe blood supply in many other parts of the world.
This research explored the various and complex meanings embedded in blood using empirical ethnographic data from Pakistan, with the intent of informing development of a national blood policy in that country. Using a focused ethnographic approach, data were collected in 26 in-depth interviews, 6 focus group discussions, 12 key informant interviews and 25 hours of observations in blood banks and maternity and surgical wards.
The key finding was that notions of caste-based purity of blood, together with the belief that donors and recipients are symbolically knitted in a kin relationship, place a preference on kin-blood. The anonymity inherent in current systems of blood extraction, storage and use as embedded in contemporary policy discourse and practice was problematic as it blurred distinctions that were important within this society.
The article highlights the importance—to ensuring a safe blood supply—of basing blood procurement policies on local, context-specific belief systems rather than relying on uniform, one-size-fits-all global policies. Drawing on our empirical findings and the literature, it is argued that the practice of kin-donated blood remains a feasible alternative to the global ideal of voluntary, anonymous donations. There is a need to focus on developing context-sensitive strategies for promoting blood safety, and critically revisit the assumptions underlying contemporary global blood procurement policies.
doi:10.1093/heapol/czr016
PMCID: PMC3291874  PMID: 21372061
Pakistan; blood supply policy; blood donations; voluntary blood donation; kin blood donation; evidence-based policy making

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