The editors of BMC International Health and Human Rights would like to thank all our reviewers who have contributed to the journal in Volume 12 (2012).
This paper outlines stakeholder views on environmental barriers that prevent people who live with psychosocial disability from participating in mental health policy development in South Africa.
Fifty-six semi-structured interviews with national, provincial and local South African mental health stakeholders were conducted between August 2006 and August 2009. Respondents included public sector policy makers, professional regulatory council representatives, and representatives from non-profit organisations (NPOs), disabled people’s organisations (DPOs), mental health interest groups, religious organisations, professional associations, universities and research institutions.
Respondents identified three main environmental barriers to participation in policy development: (a) stigmatization and low priority of mental health, (b) poverty, and (c) ineffective recovery and community supports.
A number of attitudes, practices and structures undermine the equal participation of South Africans with psychosocial disability in society. A human rights paradigm and multi-system approach is required to enable full social engagement by people with psychosocial disability, including their involvement in policy development.
Psychosocial disability; Rights; Participation barriers; Policy development; South Africa
The utilization of medical care for gastrointestinal diseases increased over the past decade worldwide. The aim of the study was to investigate the difference between rural and urban patients in seeking medical service for gastrointestinal diseases at ambulatory sector in Taiwan.
From the one-million-people cohort datasets of the National Health Insurance Research Database, the utilization of ambulatory visits for gastrointestinal diseases in 2009 was analyzed. Rural patients were compared with urban and suburban patients as to diagnosis, locality of visits and choice of specialists.
Among 295,056 patients who had ambulatory visits for gastrointestinal diseases in 2009, rural patients sought medical care for gastrointestinal diseases more frequently than urban and suburban patients (1.60 ± 3.90 vs. 1.17 ± 3.02 and 1.39 ± 3.47). 83.4% of rural patients with gastrointestinal diseases were treated by non-gastroenterologists in rural areas. Rural people had lower accessibility of specialist care, especially for hepatitis, esophageal disorders and gastroduodenal ulcer.
The rural–urban disparity of medical care for gastrointestinal diseases in Taiwan highlighted the importance of the well communication between rural physicians and gastroenterologists. Besides the establishment of the referral system, the medical teleconsultation system and the arrangement of specialist outreach clinics in rural areas might be helpful.
Healthcare disparities; Gastroenterology; Rural health services; Utilization
Over the last fifty years, the number of centenarians has dramatically increased. The centenarian rate (CR) is representative of the general longevity prevalent in a nation; it indicates the number of individuals aged 100 years or above at a given date divided by the size of the corresponding cohort of a given age. Two important attributes of the CR (50–54) are that it reflects both unchanged age-specific fertility and the absence of migration in populations. It can generally be used in longevity-based evaluations of the broader concept of successful ageing. As such, this retrospective analysis of the social factors that contribute to the CR (50–54) may help to identify the factors associated with successful ageing.
This study estimates the CR (50–54) and elucidates the influence of social factors on successful ageing and the CR (50–54), examining 32 member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
The social indicators for this study were obtained from the United Nations database. The data for the analysis of centenarians in the 32 OECD countries were obtained from the world population prospects conducted by the United Nations. Associations between social factors and CR (50–54) were assessed using Pearson correlation coefficients and regression models.
Significant positive correlations were found between the CR (50–54) and the social factors of expenditure on health as a percentage of gross domestic product (HEGDP: r = 0.411, p < 0.021), general government expenditure on health as a percentage of total government expenditure (GGEH: r = 0.474, p < 0.006), the proportion of fixed-telephone subscriptions in the population (FTS: r = 0.489, p < 0.005), and the human development index (HDI: r = 0.486, p < 0.005). Finally, these CR (50–54) predictors were used to form a model of successful ageing, with higher HEGDP and GGEH as health expenditure, higher FTS as standard of living, and higher HDI as social well-being (R2 = 0.573, P < 0.025).
The findings suggest that an increased CR (50–54) is affected by multiple social factors involved in successful ageing. Therefore, if they wish to improve their country’s CR (50–54), governments must strengthen their existing support services for the elderly through making improvements to standards of living, social well-being and through increased financing of the health sector.
Centenarian rate; Expenditure on health; Fixed-telephone; Human development index
One approach to delivering healthcare in developing countries is through voucher programs, where vouchers are distributed to a specific population for free or subsidized health care. Recent evaluations suggest that vouchers have the potential to extend coverage of priority health services to the poor in developing countries. In Cambodia, a reproductive health voucher program was implemented in January 2011. This study aims to explore women’s early experiences accessing health services with their vouchers at accredited clinics.
This qualitative exploratory study used focus group methodology to gather information from five groups of older (>25 years) and four groups of younger (18–25 years) women who were eligible for the voucher program in three rural provinces. Focus groups were digitally recorded, transcribed and translated from Khmer into English. Data analysis was an iterative process, which comprised of open coding to find commonalities that reflected categories or themes and axial coding to relate initial themes to each other. Next, a basic framework for analysis was formed by integrating the themes into the framework.
Two overarching themes were identified in the data: 1) factors that facilitate voucher use and 2) factors that inhibit voucher use. Within each of these themes, three subthemes were identified: 1) pre-existing factors, 2) distribution factors, and 3) redemption factors. Overall, women expressed positive feelings towards the voucher program, while several areas for program improvement were identified including the importance of addressing pre-existing demand-side barriers to using reproductive health services, the need for more comprehensive counselling during voucher distribution, and the persistent cost of unofficial payments expected by midwives after delivery irrespective of voucher use.
Early information from program beneficiaries can lead to timely and responsive changes that can help to maximize program success. This study highlights the importance of tailoring voucher programs to specific community needs, a strategy that can lead to better program uptake.
People have the right to make choices regarding their own sexuality, as far as they respect the rights of others. The knowledge of those rights is critical to youth’s ability to protect themselves from unwanted reproductive outcomes. Reproductive health targeted Millennium Development Goals will not be achieved without improving access to reproductive health. This study was aimed to assess knowledge of reproductive and sexual rights as well as associated factors among Wolaita Sodo University students.
An institution-based cross-sectional survey was conducted among 642 regular undergraduate Wolaita Sodo University students selected by simple random sampling. A pretested and structured self-administered questionnaire was used for data collection. Data were entered using EPI info version 3.5.3 statistical software and analyzed using SPSS version 20 statistical package. Descriptive statistics was used to describe the study population in relation to relevant variables. Bivariate and multivariate logistic regression was also carried out to see the effect of each independent variable on the dependent variable.
More than half (54.5%) of the respondents were found to be knowledgeable about reproductive and sexual rights. Attending elementary and high school in private schools [AOR: 2.08, 95% CI: 1.08, 3.99], coming from urban areas [AOR: 1.46, 95% CI: 1.00, 2.12], being student of faculty of health sciences [AOR: 2.98, 95% CI: 1.22, 7.30], participation in reproductive health clubs [AOR: 3.11, 95% CI: 2.08, 4.65], utilization of reproductive health services [AOR: 2.34, 95% CI: 1.49, 3.69] and discussing sexual issues with someone else [AOR: 2.31, 95% CI: 1.48, 3.62], were positively associated with knowledge of reproductive and sexual rights.
The level of knowledge of students about reproductive and sexual rights was found to be low. The Ministry of Education has to incorporate reproductive and sexual rights in the curricula of high schools and institutions of higher learning.
Reproductive Health; Reproductive and Sexual Rights; Youths; Ethiopia
A third of sub-Saharan Africa’s (SSA) population comprises persons aged 10–24 years. These youth are growing up in a context marked by pervasive poverty, limited educational opportunities, high HIV/AIDS prevalence, widespread conflict, and weak social controls. Published research on the broad issues that affect youth health and wellbeing in SSA is limited and centers heavily on sexual and reproductive health. In this commentary, we provide a broad overview of sub-Saharan African youth, highlight research gaps with respect to youth health and wellbeing, and describe potential avenues to develop the region’s research capacity on youth health and wellbeing.
Youth; Sub-Saharan Africa; Research
HIV/AIDS is the major problem and an obstacle to both the health and development of people in Ethiopia today. It is also indicated that the use of substances have dramatically increased despite the serious concern about HIV infection.
Unmatched case control study was conducted in South West Ethiopia using a sample of 105 cases and 305 controls. Multivariate logistic regression was used to assess the degree of association between dependent and independent variables.
HIV infection was positively associated with being in the age of 20 – 24 years [OR & (95% CI) = 2.892 (1.266, 6.607)], being female [OR & (95% CI) = 2.013 (1.061, 3.822)], alcohol use [OR & (95% CI) = 5.883 (3.034, 11.408)], having no education [OR & (95% CI) = 3.193 (1.523, 6.695)] and primary education level [OR & (95% CI) = 3.160 (1.351, 7.388)]. Early sexual initiation was also positively associated with being not employed Adj. HR & (95% CI) = 7.372 (1.455, 37.357)], not having comprehensive knowledge on HIV/AIDS [Adj. HR & (95% CI) = 8.247 (2.121, 32.067)], alcohol use [Adj. HR & (95% CI) = 3.815 (1.315, 11.070)] and khat use [Adj. HR & (95% CI) = 7.241 (1.871, 28.016)].
Strategies should be designed to control the use of alcohol and khat which were found to be predictors of HIV infection and early sexual initiation in this study.
HIV risks for women who inject drugs and those who engage in sex work are well documented. Women who are dependent on non-injecting drugs and alcohol are also likely to have increased vulnerability to HIV infection, but until they actually inject drugs or engage in sex work, are unlikely to come to the attention of HIV prevention programs.
We undertook a qualitative study involving nine focus group discussions (FGDs) and 27 key informant interviews to investigate the context of female drug and alcohol use in two high HIV prevalence states of India (Manipur and Nagaland) and to describe their HIV risks. The FGD and interview transcripts were thematically analyzed
The women were relatively young (mean age 31 years in Manipur and 28 years in Nagaland), but 64% in Manipur and 35% in Nagaland were widowed or divorced. Both heroin and alcohol were commonly used by the women from Manipur, while alcohol was primarily used by the women from Nagaland, especially in the context of ‘booze joints’ (illicit bars). Reasons for drug and alcohol use included: to avoid symptoms of withdrawal, to suppress emotional pain, to overcome the shame of sex work, pleasure, and widowhood. HIV vulnerability was clearly described, not only in relation to injecting drug use and sex work, but also alcohol consumption.
The contribution of alcohol use to the HIV vulnerability of women is not currently considered when HIV prevention programs are being designed and implemented leaving a group of high-risk women uncovered by much needed services such as treatment for a range of health problems including alcohol dependence.
Alcohol; HIV; India; Substance use; Women
Although much attention has been given to increasing the number of health workers, less focus has been directed at developing models of training that address real-life workplace needs. Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH) with funding support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) developed an eight-month modular, in-service work-based training program aimed at strengthening the capacity for monitoring and evaluation (M&E) and continuous quality improvement (CQI) in health service delivery.
This capacity building program, initiated in 2008, is offered to in-service health professionals working in Uganda. The purpose of the training is to strengthen the capacity to provide quality health services through hands-on training that allows for skills building with minimum work disruptions while encouraging greater involvement of other institutional staff to enhance continuity and sustainability. The hands-on training uses practical gaps and challenges at the workplace through a highly participatory process. Trainees work with other staff to design and implement ‘projects’ meant to address work-related priority problems, working closely with mentors. Trainees’ knowledge and skills are enhanced through short courses offered at specific intervals throughout the course.
Overall, 143 trainees were admitted between 2008 and 2011. Of these, 120 (84%) from 66 institutions completed the training successfully. Of the trainees, 37% were Social Scientists, 34% were Medical/Nursing/Clinical Officers, 5.8% were Statisticians, while 23% belonged to other professions. Majority of the trainees (80%) were employed by Non-Government Organizations while 20% worked with the public health sector. Trainees implemented 66 projects which addressed issues such as improving access to health care services; reducing waiting time for patients; strengthening M&E systems; and improving data collection and reporting. The projects implemented aimed to improve trainees’ skills and competencies in M&E and CQI and the design of the projects was such that they could share these skills with other staff, with minimal interruptions of their work.
The modular, work-based training model strengthens the capacity of the health workforce through hands-on, real-life experiences in the work-setting and improves institutional capacity, thereby providing a practical example of health systems strengthening through health workforce capacity building.
Work-based; Health workforce development; Capacity building; Training; Uganda
The ethical discourse about HIV testing has undergone a profound transformation in recent years. The greater availability of antiretroviral therapy (ART) has led to a global scaling up of HIV testing and counseling as a gateway to prevention, treatment and care. In response, critics raised important ethical questions, including: How do different testing policies and practices undermine or strengthen informed consent and medical confidentiality? How well do different modalities of testing provide benefits that outweigh risks of harm? To what degree do current testing policies and programs provide equitable access to HIV services? And finally, what lessons have been learned from the field about how to improve the delivery of HIV services to achieve public health objectives and protections for human rights? This article reviews the empirical evidence that has emerged to answer these questions, from four sub-Saharan African countries, namely: Burkina Faso, Kenya, Malawi and Uganda.
Expanding access to treatment and prevention in these four countries has made the biomedical benefits of HIV testing increasingly clear. But serious challenges remain with regard to protecting human rights, informed consent and ensuring linkages to care. Policy makers and practitioners are grappling with difficult ethical issues, including how to protect confidentiality, how to strengthen linkages to care, and how to provide equitable access to services, especially for most at risk populations, including men who have sex with men.
The most salient policy questions about HIV testing in these countries no longer address whether to scale up routine PITC (and other strategies), but how. Instead, individuals, health care providers and policy makers are struggling with a host of difficult ethical questions about how to protect rights, maximize benefits, and mitigate risks in the face of resource scarcity.
Ethics; Medical; HIV Infections/diagnosis/drug therapy/prevention & control/transmission; Informed consent; Confidentiality; Counseling; HIV Seropositivity/diagnosis/transmission; Health Services Accessibility; Adult; Health policy; Mass screening
Understanding the extent that different modern contraceptives are acceptable to different populations groups and where they get the commodities from will help in developing specific interventions that will help to scale-up the availability of the contraceptives.
The study took place in urban and rural sites in six states across Nigeria. Data on acceptability and sources of the contraceptives was collected from at least 770 randomly selected mostly female householders from each state respectively using a questionnaire. Acceptability of the different contraceptives was scored by the respondents on a scale of 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest). The relationships between acceptability and sources of the contraceptives with socio-economic status and geographic location of the respondents were examined.
The use of modern contraceptives in general was acceptable to 87% of the respondents. Male condom was the most acceptable means of contraceptive with an average score of 5.0. It was followed by implants with and oral contraceptive pill with average scores of 4.0, whilst IUD was the least acceptable with an average score of 2.9. The private sector was the major source of contraceptives to different population groups. Both male and female condoms were mostly procured from patent medicine dealers (PMD) and pharmacy shops. Intra Uterine Devices (IUDs) and implants were mostly sourced from public and private hospitals in the urban areas, whilst injectibles were mostly sourced from private hospitals. Oral contraceptives were mostly sourced from pharmacy shops and patent medicine dealers. There were SES and geographic differences for both acceptability and sources of the contraceptives. Also, the sources of different contraceptives depended on the type of the contraceptive.
The different contraceptives were acceptable to the respondents and the major source of the contraceptives was the private sector. Hence, public-private partnership arrangements should be explored so that universal coverage with contraceptives could be easily achieved. Interventions should be developed to eliminate the inequities in both acceptability and sources of different contraceptives. The acceptability of all the contraceptives should be enhanced with relevant behaviour change communication interventions especially in areas with the lowest levels of acceptability.
Modern contraceptives; Acceptability; Sources; Inequity; Nigeria
Many studies have indicated that most immigrant women come from underdeveloped countries, and this can have negative effects on their lives, children’s adaptation to school, and medical care utilization. However, there is insufficient literature about differences in infant caretaking, pre-postpartum health care, and health outcome between immigrant and native Taiwanese populations. The aim of this study was to investigate the differences between Southern Asia immigrants and Taiwanese women in their access to medical care, postnatal growth, and infant care throughout the first six months postpartum.
Comparative and descriptive designs were applied. Immigrant women were eligible if they visited three suburban settings of the Outpatient Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Outpatient Department of Pediatrics in Northern Taiwan during the period up to six months postpartum.
Immigrant women appeared to have a lower frequency of antenatal examinations and obtained less health information from health care providers. However, they did not differ significantly from native Taiwanese women in maternal body size, postnatal growth curves, exclusive breastfeeding rates or vaccination awareness at the 6th month postpartum.
Learning strengths from cultural differences between immigrant and native women and closing the gaps in health inequality are important issues. Despite the limitation of small sample size, the present findings can be used as references to help health care providers to develop further health policies in Taiwan.
Immigrant; Infant health; Women's health; Lactation; Maternal-child health
Unsafe injection practices and injection overuse are widespread in developing countries harming the patient and inviting risks to the health care workers. In Nepal, there is a dearth of documented information about injection practices so the present study was carried out: a) to determine whether the selected government health facilities satisfy the conditions for safe injections in terms of staff training, availability of sterile injectable equipment and their proper disposal after use and b) to assess knowledge and attitudes of healthcare workers in these health care facilities with regard to injection safety.
A descriptive cross-sectional mixed type (qualitative and quantitative) survey was carried out from 18th May to 16th June 2012. In-depth interviews with the in-charges were conducted using a semi-structured questionnaire. Observation of the health facilities using a structured observation tool was done. The data were analysed manually by summarizing, tabulating and presenting in various formats.
The in-charges (eight males, two females) who participated in the study ranged in age from 30 to 50 years with a mean age of 37.8 years. Severe infection followed by pain was the most important cause for injection use with injection Gentamicin being most commonly prescribed. New single use (disposable) injections and auto-disable syringes were used to inject curative drugs and vaccines respectively. Sufficient safety boxes were also supplied to dispose the used syringe. All health care workers had received full course of Hepatitis B vaccine and were knowledgeable about at least one pathogen transmitted through unsafe injection practices. Injection safety management policy and waste disposal guideline was not available for viewing in any of the facilities. The office staff who disposed the bio-medical wastes did so without taking any safety measures. Moreover, none of these staff had received any formal training in waste management.
Certain safe injection practices were noticed in the studied health care facilities but there remain a number of grey areas where unsafe practices still persists placing patient and health workers at risk of associated hazards. Training concentrating on injection safety, guidelines to dispose biomedical waste and monitoring of the activity is needed.
Baglung; Health care workers; Needle stick injury; Nepal; Safety; Safe injection practice; Sharp waste
While there are biomedical drugs for managing diabetes mellitus, some patients with diabetes use traditional medicine. The aim of the study was to explore why patients with diabetes use traditional medicine for the treatment of diabetes.
The study was conducted in Iganga and Bugiri districts in Eastern Uganda using four focus group discussions (FGDs) with patients with diabetes; two with female patients and two with male patients, thirteen key informant interviews (KIIs); nine with health workers working with patients with diabetes and four with herbalists. FGDs and KIIs focused on what respondents perceived as reasons for patients with diabetes taking traditional medicine. Analysis was done using content analysis.
Reasons for taking traditional medicine included finding difficulties accessing hospitals, diabetic drugs being out of stock, traditional medicine being acceptable and available within community, as well as being supplied in big quantities. Others were traditional medicine being cheaper than biomedical treatment and payment for it being done in installments. Traditional medicine was also more convenient to take and was marketed aggressively by the herbalists. Influence of family and friends as well as traditional healers contributed to use of traditional medicine.
Possibilities of putting diabetic drugs at facilities closer to patients need to be considered and health facilities should have a constant supply of diabetic drugs. Community members need to be sensitized on the proper treatment for diabetes mellitus and on the dangers of taking traditional medicine.
Poor quality housing is an infringement on the rights of all humans to a standard of living adequate for health. Among the many vulnerabilities of those without adequate shelter is the risk of disease spread by rodents and other pests. One such disease is Lassa fever, an acute and sometimes severe viral hemorrhagic illness endemic in West Africa. Lassa virus is maintained in the rodent Mastomys natalensis, commonly known as the “multimammate rat,” which frequently invades the domestic environment, putting humans at risk of Lassa fever. The highest reported incidence of Lassa fever in the world is consistently in the Kenema District of Sierra Leone, a region that was at the center of Sierra Leone’s civil war in which tens of thousands of lives were lost and hundreds of thousands of dwellings destroyed. Despite the end of the war in 2002, most of Kenema’s population still lives in inadequate housing that puts them at risk of rodent invasion and Lassa fever. Furthermore, despite years of health education and village hygiene campaigns, the incidence of Lassa fever in Kenema District appears to be increasing. We focus on Lassa fever as a matter of human rights, proposing a strategy to improve housing quality, and discuss how housing equity has the potential to improve health equity and ultimately economic productivity in Sierra Leone. The manuscript is designed to spur discussion and action towards provision of housing and prevention of disease in one of the world’s most vulnerable populations.
Lassa fever; Arenavirus; Mastomys natalensis; Housing equity; Health equity; Public health; Global health
With quantitative sensory testing (QST) we recently found no differences in sensory function of the foot soles between groups of torture victims with or without exposure to falanga (beatings under the feet). Compared to matched controls the torture victims had hyperalgesia to deep mechano-nociceptive stimuli and hypoesthesia to non-noxious cutaneous stimuli. The purpose of the present paper was to extend the group analysis into individual sensory profiles of victims’ feet to explore possible relations between external violence (torture), reported pain, sensory symptoms and QST data to help clarify the underlying mechanisms.
We employed interviews and assessments of the pain and sensory symptoms and QST by investigators blinded to whether the patients, 32 male torture victims from the Middle East, had (n=15), or had not (n=17) been exposed to falanga. Pain intensity, area and stimulus dependence were used to characterize the pain. QST included thresholds for touch, cold, warmth, cold-pain, heat-pain, deep pressure pain and wind-up to cutaneous noxious stimuli. An ethnically matched control group was available.The normality criterion, from our control group data, was set as the mean +/− 1.28SD, thus including 80% of all values.QST data were transformed into three categories in relation to our normality range; hypoesthesia, normoesthesia or hyperesthesia/hyperalgesia.
Most patients, irrespective of having been exposed to falanga or not, reported severe pain when walking. This was often associated with hyperalgesia to deep mechanical pressure. Hypoesthesia to mechanical stimuli co-occurred with numbness, burning and with deep mechanical hyperalgesia more often than not, but otherwise, a hypoesthesia to cutaneous sensory modalities did not co-occur systematically to falanga, pain or sensory symptoms.
In torture victims, there seem to be overriding mechanisms, manifested by hyperalgesia to pressure pain, which is usually considered a sign of centralization. In addition there was cutaneous hypoesthesia, but since there was no obvious correlation to the localization of trauma, these findings may indicate centrally evoked disturbances in sensory transmission, that is, central inhibition. We interpret these findings as a sign of changes in central sensory processing as the unifying pathological mechanism of chronic pain in these persons.
Chronic pain; Falanga; Nerve injury; Sensitization; Torture
Falanga torture (beatings on the foot soles) produces local chronic pain and severe walking difficulties. We have previously reported signs of neuropathic pain in the feet of falanga victims. The objective here was to clarify underlying pain mechanisms by quantifying sensory impairments in the feet of torture victims who had experienced both generalized torture and those who had been exposed to falanga in addition. An ethnically matched control group was available.
We employed quantitative sensory testing (QST) by investigators blinded to whether the patients, 32 male torture victims from the Middle East, had (n=15), or had not (n=17) been exposed to falanga. Pain intensity, area and stimulus dependence were used to characterize the pain as were interview data on sensory symptoms. QST included thresholds for touch, cold, warmth, cold-pain, heat-pain, deep pressure pain and wind-up to cutaneous noxious stimuli in the foot soles. Clinical data on anxiety and depression were retrieved.
Almost all falanga victims had moderate or strong pain in their feet and in twice as large an area of their foot soles as other torture victims. One-third of the latter had no pain in their feet and many reported slight pain; in spite of this, there were no differences in foot sole QST data between the tortured groups. A comparison with normal data indicated that both tortured groups had hypoesthesia for all cutaneous sensory fibre groups except those transmitting cold and heat pain, in addition to deep mechano-nociceptive hyperalgesia.
A comparison of the QST data between victims having been exposed to generalized torture and victims who in addition had been exposed to falanga, showed no differences on the group level. The sensory disturbances in relation to our control group are compatible with central sensitization and de-sensitization, pointing to a core role of central mechanisms. A further analysis to create individual sensory profiles from our measurements is in progress.
Chronic pain; Central inhibition; Falanga; Nerve injury; Sensitization; Torture
Adolescent girls are an overlooked group within conflict-affected populations and their sexual health needs are often neglected. Girls are disproportionately at risk of HIV and other STIs in times of conflict, however the lack of recognition of their unique sexual health needs has resulted in a dearth of distinctive HIV protection and prevention responses. Departing from the recognition of a paucity of literature on the distinct vulnerabilities of girls in time of conflict, this study sought to deepen the knowledge base on this issue by qualitatively exploring the sexual vulnerabilities of adolescent girls surviving abduction and displacement in Northern Uganda.
Over a ten-month period between 2004–2005, at the height of the Lord’s Resistance Army insurgency in Northern Uganda, 116 in-depth interviews and 16 focus group discussions were held with adolescent girls and adult women living in three displacement camps in Gulu district, Northern Uganda. The data was transcribed and key themes and common issues were identified. Once all data was coded the ethnographic software programme ATLAS was used to compare and contrast themes and categories generated in the in-depth interviews and focus group discussions.
Our results demonstrated the erosion of traditional Acholi mentoring and belief systems that had previously served to protect adolescent girls’ sexuality. This disintegration combined with: the collapse of livelihoods; being left in camps unsupervised and idle during the day; commuting within camp perimeters at night away from the family hut to sleep in more central locations due to privacy and insecurity issues, and; inadequate access to appropriate sexual health information and services, all contribute to adolescent girls’ heightened sexual vulnerability and subsequent enhanced risk for HIV/AIDS in times of conflict.
Conflict prevention planners, resettlement programme developers, and policy-makers need to recognize adolescent girls affected by armed conflict as having distinctive needs, which require distinctive responses. More adaptive and sustainable gender-sensitive reproductive health strategies and HIV prevention initiatives for displaced adolescent girls in conflict settings must be developed.
Adolescent girls; Conflict; Sexual vulnerability; Displacement camps; Northern Uganda; Acholi; Qualitative; HIV/AIDS
Taiwan has been dispatching an increasing number of short-term medical missions (STMMs) to its allied nations to provide humanitarian health care; however, overall evaluations to help policy makers strengthen the impact of such missions are lacking. Our primary objective is to identify useful strategies by comparing STMMs to the South Pacific and Central America.
The data for the evaluation come from two main sources: the official reports of 46 missions to 11 countries in Central America and 25 missions to 8 countries in the South Pacific, and questionnaires completed by health professionals who had participated in the above missions. In Central America, STMMs were staffed by volunteer health professionals from multiple institutions. In the South Pacific, STMMs were staffed by volunteer health professionals from single institutions.
In comparison to STMMs to Central America, STMMs to the South Pacific accomplished more educational training for local health providers, including providing heath-care knowledge and skills (p<0.05), and training in equipment administration (p<0.001) and drug administration (p<0.005). In addition, language constraints were more common among missions to Central America (p<0.001). There was no significant difference in the performance of clinical service between the two regions.
Health-care services provided by personnel from multiple institutions are as efficient as those from single institutions. Proficiency in the native language and provision of education for local health-care workers are essential for conducting a successful STMM. Our data provide implications for integrating evidence into the deployment of STMMs.
Medical missions; Health professional; Language; Education; Efficiency
In Uganda, despite a significant public health burden of tuberculosis (TB) in the context of high human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevalence, little is known about community knowledge of TB. The purpose of this study was to assess and compare knowledge about TB and HIV in the general population of western Uganda and to examine common knowledge gaps and misconceptions.
We implemented a multi-stage survey design to randomly survey 360 participants from one district in western Uganda. Weighted summary knowledge scores for TB and HIV were calculated and multiple linear regression (with knowledge score as the dependant variable) was used to determine significant predictors. Six focus group discussions were conducted to supplement survey findings.
Mean (SD) HIV knowledge score was 58 (12) and TB knowledge score was 33 (15), both scores out of 100. The TB knowledge score was statistically significantly (p < 0.001) lower. Multivariate regression models included age, sex, marital status, education, residence, and having a friend with HIV/TB as independent variables. TB knowledge was predicted by rural residence (coefficient = −6.27, 95% CI: -11.7 to −0.8), and age ≥45 years (coefficient = 7.45, 95% CI: 0.3-14.6). HIV knowledge was only predicted by higher education (coefficient = 0.94, 95%CI: 0.3-1.6). Focus group participants mentioned various beliefs in the aetiology of TB including sharing cups, alcohol consumption, smoking, air pollution, and HIV. Some respondents believed that TB was not curable.
TB knowledge is low and many misconceptions about TB exist: these should be targeted through health education programs. Both TB and HIV-infection knowledge gaps could be better addressed through an integrated health education program on both infections, whereby TB program managers include HIV information and vice versa.
Tuberculosis; Human immunodeficiency virus; Community knowledge; Uganda
There is limited research about IPV against women and associated factors in Sub-Saharan Africa, not least Mozambique. The objective of this study was to examine the occurrence, severity, chronicity and “predictors” of IPV against women in Maputo City (Mozambique).
Data were collected during a 12 month-period (consecutive cases, with each woman seen only once) from 1,442 women aged 15–49 years old seeking help for abuse by an intimate partner at the Forensic Services at the Maputo Central Hospital, Maputo City, Mozambique. Interviews were conducted by trained female interviewers, and data collected included demographics and lifestyle variables, violence (using the previously validated Revised Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS2), and control (using the Controlling Behaviour Scale Revised (CBS-R). The data were analysed using bivariate and multivariate methods.
The overall experienced IPV during the past 12 months across severity (one or more types, minor and severe) was 70.2% (chronicity, 85.8 ± 120.9).a Severe IPV varied between 26.3-45.9% and chronicity between 3.1 ± 9.1-12.8 ± 26.9, depending on IPV type. Severity and chronicity figures were higher in psychological aggression than in the other IPV types. Further, 26.8% (chronicity, 55.3 ± 117.6) of women experienced all IPV types across severity. The experience of other composite IPV types across severity (4 combinations of 3 types of IPV) varied between 27.1-42.6% and chronicity between 35.7 ± 80.3-64.9 ± 110.9, depending on the type of combination. The combination psychological aggression, physical assault and sexual coercion had the highest figures compared with the other combinations. The multiple regressions showed that controlling behaviours, own perpetration and co-occurring victimization were more important in “explaining” the experience of IPV than other variables (e.g. abuse as a child).
In our study, controlling behaviours over/by partner, own perpetration, co-occurring victimization and childhood abuse were more important factors in “explaining” sustained IPV. More investigation into women’s IPV exposure and its “predictors” is warranted in Sub-Saharan Africa, particularly Mozambique.
Intimate partner violence; Victims; Controlling behaviours; Perpetration; Abuse as a child
This research assesses informal markets that dominate pharmaceutical systems in severely disrupted countries and identifies areas for further investigation. Findings are based on recent academic papers, policy and grey literature, and field studies in Somalia, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Haiti. The public sector in the studied countries is characterized in part by weak Ministries of Health and low donor coordination. Informal markets, where medicines are regularly sold in market stalls and unregulated pharmacies, often accompanied by unqualified medical advice, have proliferated. Counterfeit and sub-standard medicines trade networks have also developed. To help increase medicine availability for citizens, informal markets should be integrated into existing access to medicines initiatives.
Maternal mortality and morbidity remains high in many low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) represents an underestimated and unrecognised impediment to optimal maternal health in LMIC; left untreated – it also has severe consequences for the offspring. A better understanding of the barriers hindering detection and treatment of GDM is needed. Based on experiences from World Diabetes Foundation (WDF) supported GDM projects this paper seeks to investigate societal and health system barriers to such efforts.
Questionnaires were filled out by 10 WDF supported GDM project partners implementing projects in eight different LMIC. In addition, interviews were conducted with the project partners. The interviews were analysed using content analysis.
Barriers to improving maternal health related to GDM nominated by project implementers included lack of trained health care providers - especially female doctors; high staff turnover; lack of standard protocols, consumables and equipment; financing of health services and treatment; lack of or poor referral systems, feedback mechanisms and follow-up systems; distance to health facility; perceptions of female body size and weight gain/loss in relation to pregnancy; practices related to pregnant women’s diet; societal negligence of women’s health; lack of decision-making power among women regarding their own health; stigmatisation; role of women in society and expectations that the pregnant woman move to her maternal home for delivery.
A number of barriers within the health system and society exist. Programmes need to consider and address these barriers in order to improve GDM care and thereby maternal health in LMIC.
Gestational diabetes mellitus; Health system; Society; Barriers; Low- and middle-income countries
The Hijra is a distinct type of gender role in South Asia where men act like women. This group of people is socially excluded by the general community, in terms of attainment of an opportunity for a socially productive life. Often this sort of deprivation forces these individuals towards professions like sex trade, in pursuit of sustenance, which as a consequence places them as a key block in the puzzle of an impending generalized HIV epidemic in Pakistan.
This study is a qualitative study, which involved 8 in-depth interviews and four focus group discussions, conducted in Rawalpindi and Islamabad (Pakistan) from February to April 2012. The data was audio taped and transcribed. Key themes were identified and built upon. The respondents were contacted through a gate keeper Hijra who was a member of the hijra community. Multiple interview sessions were conducted with each respondent.
Two key categories of the Hijras were identified as Khusrapan and Zananapan, during the in-depth interview sessions. This initial information paved way for the four focus group discussions. The data was presented using key themes which were identified. The study participants explained their life histories to us which made it obvious that they had been socially excluded at many stages of their lives from performing normal social functions. This lack of occupational and educational opportunities pushed them towards entering the risky business of selling sex.
The transgender community is socially excluded by the Pakistani society which is leading them to indulge in commercial sex and putting their lives at risk. Prudent measures are needed to form community based organizations managed and led by hijra community and addressing their social exclusion and risky behaviors.
Hijras; Commercial sex work; Social exclusion; HIV and Pakistan