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1.  HIV testing among pregnant women living with HIV in India: are private healthcare providers routinely violating women’s human rights? 
Background
In India, approximately 49,000 women living with HIV become pregnant and deliver each year. While the government of India has made progress increasing the availability of prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) services, only about one quarter of pregnant women received an HIV test in 2010, and about one-in-five that were found positive for HIV received interventions to prevent vertical transmission of HIV.
Methods
Between February 2012 to March 2013, 14 HIV-positive women who had recently delivered a baby were recruited from HIV positive women support groups, Government of India Integrated Counseling and Testing Centers, and nongovernmental organizations in Mysore and Pune, India. In-depth interviews were conducted to examine their general experiences with antenatal healthcare; specific experiences around HIV counseling and testing; and perceptions about their care and follow-up treatment. Data were analyzed thematically using the human rights framework for HIV testing adopted by the United Nations and India’s National AIDS Control Organization.
Results
While all of the HIV-positive women in the study received HIV and PMTCT services at a government hospital or antiretroviral therapy center, almost all reported attending a private clinic or hospital at some point in their pregnancy. According to the participants, HIV testing often occurred without consent; there was little privacy; breaches of confidentiality were commonplace; and denial of medical treatment occurred routinely. Among women living with HIV in this study, violations of their human rights occurred more commonly in private rather than public healthcare settings.
Conclusions
There is an urgent need for capacity building among private healthcare providers to improve standards of practice with regard to informed consent process, HIV testing, patient confidentiality, treatment, and referral of pregnant women living with HIV.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-14-7
PMCID: PMC3975140  PMID: 24656059
India; HIV testing; Antenatal care; Confidentiality; Diagnosis; Qualitative research; Perinatal transmission
2.  Adverse childhood experiences, psychosocial well-being and cognitive development among orphans and abandoned children in five low income countries 
Background
Development policymakers and child-care service providers are committed to improving the educational opportunities of the 153 million orphans worldwide. Nevertheless, the relationship between orphanhood and education outcomes is not well understood. Varying factors associated with differential educational attainment leave policymakers uncertain where to intervene. This study examines the relationship between psychosocial well-being and cognitive development in a cohort of orphans and abandoned children (OAC) relative to non-OAC in five low and middle income countries (LMICs) to understand better what factors are associated with success in learning for these children.
Methods
Positive Outcomes for Orphans (POFO) is a longitudinal study, following a cohort of single and double OAC in institutional and community-based settings in five LMICs in Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa: Cambodia, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, and Tanzania. Employing two-stage random sampling survey methodology to identify representative samples of OAC in six sites, the POFO study aimed to better understand factors associated with child well-being. Using cross-sectional and child-level fixed effects regression analyses on 1,480 community based OAC and a comparison sample of non-OAC, this manuscript examines associations between emotional difficulties, cognitive development, and a variety of possible co-factors, including potentially traumatic events.
Results
The most salient finding is that increases in emotional difficulties are associated with lags in cognitive development for two separate measures of learning within and across multiple study sites. Exposure to potentially traumatic events, male gender, and lower socio-economic status are associated with more reported emotional difficultiesin some sites. Being female and having an illiterate caregiver is associated with lower performance on cognitive development tests in some sites, while greater wealth is associated with higher performance. There is no significant association between orphan status per se and cognitive development, though the negative and significant association between higher emotional difficulties and lags in cognitive development hold across all orphan subgroups.
Conclusions
These findings suggest that interventions targeting psychosocial support for vulnerable children, especially vis a vis traumatic experiences, may ease strains inhibiting a child’s learning. Family based interventions to stabilize socioeconomic conditions may help overcome psychosocial challenges that otherwise would present as barriers to the child’s learning.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-14-6
PMCID: PMC3975306  PMID: 24606949
Orphans; Education; Trauma; Emotional difficulties; Cognition; POFO
3.  Correlates of out-of-pocket and catastrophic health expenditures in Tanzania: results from a national household survey 
Background
Inequality in health services access and utilization are influenced by out-of-pocket health expenditures in many low and middle-income countries (LMICs). Various antecedents such as social factors, poor health and economic factors are proposed to direct the choice of health care service use and incurring out-of-pocket payments. We investigated the association of these factors with out-of-pocket health expenditures among the adult and older population in the United Republic of Tanzania. We also investigated the prevalence and associated determinants contributing to household catastrophic health expenditures.
Methods
We accessed the data of a multistage stratified random sample of 7279 adult participants, aged between 18 and 59 years, as well as 1018 participants aged above 60 years, from the first round of the Tanzania National Panel survey. We employed multiple generalized linear and logistic regression models to evaluate the correlates of out-of-pocket as well as catastrophic health expenditures, accounting for the complex sample design effects.
Results
Increasing age, female gender, obesity and functional disability increased the adults’ out-of-pocket health expenditures significantly, while functional disability and visits to traditional healers increased the out-of-pocket health expenditures in older participants. Adult participants, who lacked formal education or worked as manual laborers earned significantly less (p < 0.001) and spent less on health (p < 0.001), despite having higher levels of disability. Large household size, household head’s occupation as a manual laborer, household member with chronic illness, domestic violence against women and traditional healer’s visits were significantly associated with high catastrophic health expenditures.
Conclusion
We observed that the prevalence of inequalities in socioeconomic factors played a significant role in determining the nature of both out-of-pocket and catastrophic health expenditures. We propose that investment in social welfare programs and strengthening the social security mechanisms could reduce the financial burden in United Republic of Tanzania.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-14-5
PMCID: PMC3946236  PMID: 24597486
Tanzania; Catastrophic expenditures; Out-of-pocket payments; Traditional healers
4.  The emergence of a global right to health norm – the unresolved case of universal access to quality emergency obstetric care 
Background
The global response to HIV suggests the potential of an emergent global right to health norm, embracing shared global responsibility for health, to assist policy communities in framing the obligations of the domestic state and the international community. Our research explores the extent to which this global right to health norm has influenced the global policy process around maternal health rights, with a focus on universal access to emergency obstetric care.
Methods
In examining the extent to which arguments stemming from a global right to health norm have been successful in advancing international policy on universal access to emergency obstetric care, we looked at the period from 1985 to 2013 period. We adopted a qualitative case study approach applying a process-tracing methodology using multiple data sources, including an extensive literature review and limited key informant interviews to analyse the international policy agenda setting process surrounding maternal health rights, focusing on emergency obstetric care. We applied John Kingdon's public policy agenda setting streams model to analyse our data.
Results
Kingdon’s model suggests that to succeed as a mobilising norm, the right to health could work if it can help bring the problem, policy and political streams together, as it did with access to AIDS treatment. Our analysis suggests that despite a normative grounding in the right to health, prioritisation of the specific maternal health entitlements remains fragmented.
Conclusions
Despite United Nations recognition of maternal mortality as a human rights issue, the relevant policy communities have not yet managed to shift the policy agenda to prioritise the global right to health norm of shared responsibility for realising access to emergency obstetric care. The experience of HIV advocates in pushing for global solutions based on right to health principles, including participation, solidarity and accountability; suggest potential avenues for utilising right to health based arguments to push for policy priority for universal access to emergency obstetric care in the post-2015 global agenda.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-14-4
PMCID: PMC3974068  PMID: 24576008
5.  Is universal health coverage the practical expression of the right to health care? 
The present Millennium Development Goals are set to expire in 2015 and their next iteration is now being discussed within the international community. With regards to health, the World Health Organization proposes universal health coverage as a ‘single overarching health goal’ for the next iteration of the Millennium Development Goals.
The present Millennium Development Goals have been criticised for being ‘duplicative’ or even ‘competing alternatives’ to international human rights law. The question then arises, if universal health coverage would indeed become the single overarching health goal, replacing the present health-related Millennium Development Goals, would that be more consistent with the right to health? The World Health Organization seems to have anticipated the question, as it labels universal health coverage as “by definition, a practical expression of the concern for health equity and the right to health”.
Rather than waiting for the negotiations to unfold, we thought it would be useful to verify this contention, using a comparative normative analysis. We found that – to be a practical expression of the right to health – at least one element is missing in present authoritative definitions of universal health coverage: a straightforward confirmation that international assistance is essential, not optional.
But universal health coverage is a ‘work in progress’. A recent proposal by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network proposed universal health coverage with a set of targets, including a target for international assistance, which would turn universal health coverage into a practical expression of the right to health care.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-14-3
PMCID: PMC3936924  PMID: 24559232
Millennium development goals; Universal health coverage; Right to health
6.  Public stigma against family members of people with mental illness: findings from the Gilgel Gibe Field Research Center (GGFRC), Southwest Ethiopia 
Background
Public stigma against family members of people with mental illness is a negative attitude by the public which blame family members for the mental illness of their relatives. Family stigma can result in self social restrictions, delay in treatment seeking and poor quality of life. This study aimed at investigating the degree and correlates of family stigma.
Methods
A quantitative cross-sectional house to house survey was conducted among 845 randomly selected urban and rural community members in the Gilgel Gibe Field Research Center, Southwest Ethiopia. An interviewer administered and pre-tested questionnaire adapted from other studies was used to measure the degree of family stigma and to determine its correlates. Data entry was done by using EPI-DATA and the analysis was performed using STATA software. Unadjusted and adjusted linear regression analysis was done to identify the correlates of family stigma.
Results
Among the total 845 respondents, 81.18% were female. On a range of 1 to 5 score, the mean family stigma score was 2.16 (±0.49). In a multivariate analysis, rural residents had significantly higher stigma scores (std. β = 0.43, P < 0.001) than urban residents. As the number of perceived signs (std. β = -0.07, P < 0.05), perceived supernatural (std. β = -0.12, P < 0.01) and psychosocial and biological (std. β = -0.11, P < 0.01) explanations of mental illness increased, the stigma scores decreased significantly. High supernatural explanation of mental illness was significantly correlated with lower stigma among individuals with lower level of exposure to people with mental illness (PWMI). On the other hand, high exposure to PWMI was significantly associated with lower stigma among respondents who had high education. Stigma scores increased with increasing income among respondents who had lower educational status.
Conclusions
Our findings revealed moderate level of family stigma. Place of residence, perceived signs and explanations of mental illness were independent correlates of public stigma against family members of people with mental illness. Therefore, mental health communication programs to inform explanations and signs of mental illness need to be implemented.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-14-2
PMCID: PMC3933511  PMID: 24555444
Stigma; Mental illness; Family stigma; Psublic stigma
7.  Reviewer acknowledgement 2013 
Contributing reviewers
The editors of BMC International Health and Human Rights would like to thank all our reviewers who have contributed their time to the journal in Volume 13 (2013).
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-14-1
PMCID: PMC3910681
8.  Barriers to using skilled birth attendants’ services in mid- and far-western Nepal: a cross-sectional study 
Background
Skilled birth attendants (SBAs) provide important interventions that improve maternal and neonatal health and reduce maternal and neonatal mortality. However, utilization and coverage of services by SBAs remain poor, especially in rural and remote areas of Nepal. This study examined the characteristics associated with utilization of SBA services in mid- and far-western Nepal.
Methods
This cross-sectional study examined three rural and remote districts of mid- and far-western Nepal (i.e., Kanchanpur, Dailekh and Bajhang), representing three ecological zones (southern plains [Tarai], hill and mountain, respectively) with low utilization of services by SBAs. Enumerators assisted a total of 2,481 women. All respondents had delivered a baby within the past 12 months. We used bivariate and multivariate analyses to assess the association between antenatal and delivery care visits and the women’s background characteristics.
Results
Fifty-seven percent of study participants had completed at least four antenatal care visits and 48% delivered their babies with the assistance of SBAs. Knowing the danger signs of pregnancy and delivery (e.g., premature labor, prolonged labor, breech delivery, postpartum hemorrhage, severe headache) associated positively with four or more antenatal care visits (OR = 1.71; 95% CI: 1.41-2.07). Living less than 30 min from a health facility associated positively with increased use of both antenatal care (OR = 1.44; 95% CI: 1.18-1.77) and delivery services (OR = 1.25; CI: 1.03-1.52). Four or more antenatal care visits was a determining factor for the utilization of SBAs.
Conclusions
Less than half of the women in our study delivered babies with the aid of SBAs, indicating a need to increase utilization of such services in rural and remote areas of Nepal. Distance from health facilities and inadequate transportation pose major barriers to the utilization of SBAs. Providing women with transportation funds before they go to a facility for delivery and managing transportation options will increase service utilization. Moreover, SBA utilization associates positively with women’s knowledge of pregnancy danger signs, wealth quintile, and completed antenatal care visits. Nepal’s health system must develop strategies that generate demand for SBAs and also reduce financial, geographic and cultural barriers to such services.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-13-49
PMCID: PMC3878020  PMID: 24365039
Antenatal care; Delivery care; Utilization; Skilled birth attendant; Barrier; Nepal
9.  Factors in the management of feeding in nursery school children as perceived by their mothers in rural Bondo County, Kenya 
Background
The effects of malnutrition on health status and survival of children has been the subject of extensive research for several decades. Malnutrition affects physical growth, cognitive development of children, morbidity and mortality. The current study was an exploratory survey that focused on factors affecting feeding of nursery school children as perceived by their mothers in a rural setting in Usigu Division of Bondo County, Kenya.
Methods
The sampling frame was mothers whose children were in Kanyibok, Sanda and Usenge nursery schools. Purposive sampling methods were used to draw a total of 108 respondents. In a logistic regression model, bad management of feeding was the dependent variable while factors perceived to affect management of feeding were the independent variables.
Results
Married mothers were more likely to manage good feeding practices (OR, 0.34, 95% CI, 0.21-0.76; P = 0.022) relative to those who were single or widowed. Additional analyses showed that low education levels (OR, 7.33, 95% CI, 3.37-12.91; P = 0.023), younger mothers (OR, 6.04, 95% CI, 3.22-9.68; P = 0.029) and mothers engaged in business (OR, 4.02, 95% CI, 2.11-7.85; P = 0.027) increased their likelihood of not feeding the pre-school children. Majority of the children who ate the main meals in other houses belonged to young mothers in the age category of 15–29 years. Further analyses demonstrated that if the order of serving food was to the children first, then they had high likelihood of having good feeding relative to when the father was served first (OR, 0.22, 95% CI, 0.14-0.61; P = 0.011).
Conclusions
Based on these findings, there is an urgent need for sensitization of the mothers on the management of feeding of these pre-school children in Bondo County. It is hoped that relevant interventions would then be designed with the view of managing children feeding in such rural settings as in Bondo County in Kenya.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-13-47
PMCID: PMC3842824  PMID: 24238643
Feeding practices; Children; Mothers; Rural Bondo
10.  Gender norms and economic empowerment intervention to reduce intimate partner violence against women in rural Côte d’Ivoire: a randomized controlled pilot study 
Background
Gender-based violence against women, including intimate partner violence (IPV), is a pervasive health and human rights concern. However, relatively little intervention research has been conducted on how to reduce IPV in settings impacted by conflict. The current study reports on the evaluation of the incremental impact of adding “gender dialogue groups” to an economic empowerment group savings program on levels of IPV. This study took place in north and northwestern rural Côte d’Ivoire.
Methods
Between 2010 and 2012, we conducted a two-armed, non-blinded randomized-controlled trial (RCT) comparing group savings only (control) to “gender dialogue groups” added to group savings (treatment). The gender dialogue group consisted of eight sessions that targeted women and their male partner. Eligible Ivorian women (18+ years, no prior experience with group savings) were invited to participate. 934 out of 981 (95.2%) partnered women completed baseline and endline data collection. The primary trial outcome measure was an overall measure of past-year physical and/or sexual IPV. Past year physical IPV, sexual IPV, and economic abuse were also separately assessed, as were attitudes towards justification of wife beating and a woman’s ability to refuse sex with her husband.
Results
Intent to treat analyses revealed that compared to groups savings alone, the addition of gender dialogue groups resulted in a slightly lower odds of reporting past year physical and/or sexual IPV (OR: 0.92; 95% CI: 0.58, 1.47; not statistically significant). Reductions in reporting of physical IPV and sexual IPV were also observed (not statistically significant). Women in the treatment group were significantly less likely to report economic abuse than control group counterparts (OR = 0.39; 95% CI: 0.25, 0.60, p < .0001). Acceptance of wife beating was significantly reduced among the treatment group (β = -0.97; 95% CI: -1.67, -0.28, p = 0.006), while attitudes towards refusal of sex did not significantly change Per protocol analysis suggests that compared to control women, treatment women attending more than 75% of intervention sessions with their male partner were less likely to report physical IPV (a OR: 0.45; 95% CI: 0.21, 0.94; p = .04) and report fewer justifications for wife beating (adjusted β = -1.14; 95% CI: -2.01, -0.28, p = 0.01) ; and both low and high adherent women reported significantly decreased economic abuse (a OR: 0.31; 95% CI: 0.18, 0.52, p < 0.0001; a OR: 0.47; 95% CI: 0.27, 0.81, p = 01, respectively). No significant reductions were observed for physical and/or sexual IPV, or sexual IPV alone.
Conclusions
Results from this pilot RCT suggest the importance of addressing household gender inequities alongside economic programming, because this type of combined intervention has potential to reduce levels of IPV. Additional large-scale intervention research is needed to replicate these findings.
Trial registration
Registration Number: NCT01629472.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-13-46
PMCID: PMC3816202  PMID: 24176132
Gender-based violence; Randomized controlled trial; West Africa; Economic empowerment; Evaluation
11.  Determinants of child and forced marriage in Morocco: stakeholder perspectives on health, policies and human rights 
Background
In Morocco, the social and legal framework surrounding sexual and reproductive health has transformed greatly in the past decade, especially with the introduction of the new Family Law or Moudawana. Yet, despite raising the minimum age of marriage for girls and stipulating equal rights in the family, child and forced marriage is widespread. The objective of this research study was to explore perspectives of a broad range of professionals on factors that contribute to the occurrence of child and forced marriage in Morocco.
Methods
A qualitative approach was used to generate both primary and secondary data for the analysis. Primary data consist of individual semi-structured interviews that were conducted with 22 professionals from various sectors: health, legal, education, NGO’s and government. Sources of secondary data include academic papers, government and NGO reports, various legal documents and media reports. Data were analyzed using thematic qualitative analysis.
Results
Four major themes arose from the data, indicating that the following elements contribute to child and forced marriage: (1) the legal and social divergence in conceptualizing forced and child marriage; (2) the impact of legislation; (3) the role of education; and (4) the economic factor. Emphasis was especially placed on the new Family Code or Moudawana as having the greatest influence on advancement of women's rights in the sphere of marriage. However, participants pointed out that embedded patriarchal attitudes and behaviours limit its effectiveness.
Conclusion
The study provided a comprehensive understanding of the factors that compound the problem of child and forced marriage in Morocco. From the viewpoint of professionals, who are closely involved in tackling the issue, policy measures and the law have the greatest potential to bring child and forced marriage to a halt. However, the implementation of new legal tools is facing barriers and resistance. Additionally, the legal and policy framework should go hand in hand with both education and increased economic opportunities. Education and awareness-raising of all ages is considered essential, seeing that parents and the extended family play a huge role in marrying off girls and young women.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-13-43
PMCID: PMC3853335  PMID: 24131501
Child and forced marriage; Morocco; Women’s rights; Sexual and reproductive health; Violence
12.  Improvement in health and empowerment of families as a result of watershed management in a tribal area in India - a qualitative study 
Background
Tribal people in India, as in other parts of the world, reside mostly in forests and/or hilly terrains. Water scarcity and health problems related to it are their prime concern. Watershed management can contribute to resolve their health related problems and can put them on a path of socio-economic development. Integrated management of land, water and biomass resources within a watershed, i.e. in an area or a region which contributes rainfall water to a river or lake, is referred to as watershed management. Watershed management includes soil and water conservation to create water resources, management of drinking water, improving hygiene and sanitation, plantation of trees, improving agriculture, formation of self-help groups and proper utilisation and management of available natural resources. For successful implementation of such a solution, understanding of perceptions of the tribal community members with regard to public health and socioeconomic implications of watershed management is essential.
Methods
A qualitative study with six focus group discussions (FGDs), three each separately for men and women, was conducted among tribal community members of the Maharashtra state of India. The data collected from the FGDs were analyzed using manifest and latent content analysis.
Results
“Improvement in health and empowerment of families as a result of watershed management” was identified as the main theme. Participants perceived that their health problems and socio-economic development are directly and/or indirectly dependent upon water availability. They further perceived that watershed management could directly or indirectly result in reduction of their public health related challenges like waterborne diseases, seasonal migration, alcoholism, intimate partner violence, as well as drudgery of women and may enhance overall empowerment of families through agricultural development.
Conclusions
Tribal people perceived that water scarcity is the main reason for their physical, mental and social health problems and a major obstacle for their overall development. The perceptions of tribal participants indicate that infectious diseases, migration, alcoholism, intimate partner violence and drudgery of women are end results of water scarcity and efforts to increase water availability through watershed management may help them to achieve their right to health which is embedded in their right to access to water.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-13-42
PMCID: PMC3853343  PMID: 24119537
Public health; Watershed management; Perceptions; Tribal; Empowerment
13.  The transition of childbirth practices among tribal women in Gujarat, India - a grounded theory approach 
Background
Under the National Rural Health Mission, the current emphasis is on achieving universal institutional births through incentive schemes as part of reforms related to childbirth in India. There has been rapid progress in achieving this goal. To understand the choices made as well as practices and perceptions related to childbirth amongst tribal women in Gujarat and how these have been influenced by modernity in general and modernity brought in through maternal health policies.
Method
A model depicting the transition in childbirth practices amongst tribal women was constructed using the grounded theory approach with; 8 focus groups of women, 5 in depth interviews with traditional birth attendants, women, and service providers and field notes on informal discussions and observations.
Results
A transition in childbirth practices across generations was noted, i.e. a shift from home births attended by Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) to hospital births. The women and their families both adapted to and shaped this transition through a constant ’trade-off between desirable and essential’- the desirable being a traditional homebirth in secure surroundings and the essential being the survival of mother and baby by going to hospital. This transition was shaped by complex multiple factors: 1) Overall economic growth and access to modern medical care influencing women’s choices, 2) External context in terms of the international maternal health discourses and national policies, especially incentive schemes for promoting institutional deliveries, 3) Socialisation into medical childbirth practices, through exposure to many years of free outreach services for maternal and child health, 4) Loss of self reliance in the community as a consequence of role redefinition and deskilling of the TBAs and 5) Cultural belief that intervention is necessary during childbirth aiding easy acceptance of medical interventions.
Conclusion
In resource poor settings where choices are limited and mortality is high, hospital births are perceived as increasing the choices for women, saving lives of mothers and babies, though there is a need for region specific strategies. Modern obstetric technology is utilised and given meanings based on socio-cultural conceptualisations of birth, which need to be considered while designing policies for maternal health.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-13-41
PMCID: PMC3826869  PMID: 24088383
Childbirth practices; Medicalization; India; Grounded theory
14.  Adolescents and parents’ perceptions of best time for sex and sexual communications from two communities in the Eastern and Volta Regions of Ghana: implications for HIV and AIDS education 
Background
Adolescents and parents’ differ in their perceptions regarding engaging in sexual activity and protecting themselves from pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The views of adolescents and parents from two south-eastern communities in Ghana regarding best time for sex and sexual communications were examined.
Methods
Focus Group interviews were conducted with parents and adolescents (both In-school and Out-of school) from two communities (Somanya and Adidome) in the Eastern and Volta regions of Ghana with epidemiological differentials in HIV infection.
Results
Findings showed parents and adolescents agree that the best timing for sexual activity amongst adolescents is determined by socioeconomic viability. In practice however, there were tensions between adolescents and parents crystallized by spoilt generation and physiological drive ideologies. Whilst one community relied on a more communal approach in controlling their children; the other relied on a confrontational approach. Sex-talk is examined as a measure to reduce these tensions, and children in both communities were ambivalent over sexual communication between their parents and themselves. Parents from the two communities however differed in their perceptions. Whilst parents in one community attributed reduced teenage pregnancies to sex education, those in the other community indicated a generalized adolescents’ sexual activeness manifested in the perceived widespread delinquency in the community.
Conclusion
Parents in both communities reported significant barriers to parents-adolescents sexual communication. Parents in both communities should be educated to discuss the broader issues on sexuality that affects adolescents and their reproductive health needs.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-13-40
PMCID: PMC3849363  PMID: 24070548
Adolescents; Parents; Sex; Communication; Ghana
15.  Contribution of the Japan International Cooperation Agency health-related projects to health system strengthening 
Background
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has focused its attention on appraising health development assistance projects and redirecting efforts towards health system strengthening. This study aimed to describe the type of project and targets of interest, and assess the contribution of JICA health-related projects to strengthening health systems worldwide.
Methods
We collected a web-based Project Design Matrix (PDM) of 105 JICA projects implemented between January 2005 and December 2009. We developed an analytical matrix based on the World Health Organization (WHO) health system framework to examine the PDM data and thereby assess the projects’ contributions to health system strengthening.
Results
The majority of JICA projects had prioritized workforce development, and improvements in governance and service delivery. Conversely, there was little assistance for finance or medical product development. The vast majority (87.6%) of JICA projects addressed public health issues, for example programs to improve maternal and child health, and the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases such as AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Nearly 90% of JICA technical healthcare assistance directly focused on improving governance as the most critical means of accomplishing its goals.
Conclusions
Our study confirmed that JICA projects met the goals of bilateral cooperation by developing workforce capacity and governance. Nevertheless, our findings suggest that JICA assistance could be used to support financial aspects of healthcare systems, which is an area of increasing concern. We also showed that the analytical matrix methodology is an effective means of examining the component of health system strengthening to which the activity and output of a project contributes. This may help policy makers and practitioners focus future projects on priority areas.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-13-39
PMCID: PMC3856466  PMID: 24053583
Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA); Health system improvement; Project design matrix
17.  Myths and misconceptions about tuberculosis transmission in Ghana 
Background
Myths and misconceptions about TB can serve as a barrier to efforts at reducing stigmatisation of people infected and affected by the disease. Understanding such drivers of myths and misconceptions is important for improving information, education and communication (IEC) efforts of national control and preventive interventions. This study therefore assesses the influence of interaction of spatial, socioeconomic and demographic characteristics on myths and misconceptions.
Methods
Data was drawn from male (N = 4,546) and female (N = 4,916) files of the 2008 Ghana Demographic and Health Survey. A myth and misconception variable was created from five-related constructs with internal consistency score of r = 0. 8802 for males (inter-item correlation: 0.5951) and for females, r = 0. 0.9312 (inter-item correlation: 0.7303). The Pearson Chi-square was used to test the bivariate relationship between the independent variables and the dependent variable. Logistic regression was subsequently used to explore the factors determining myths and misconceptions of TB transmission.
Results
Majority of Ghanaians (males: 66.75%; females: 66.13%) did not hold myths and misconceptions about TB transmission. Females resident in the Upper East (aOR = 0.31, CI = 0.17-0.55) and Upper West (aOR = 0.41, CI = 0.24-0.69) and males resident in the Northern (aOR = 0.23, CI = 0.13-0.39) and the Greater Accra (aOR = 0.25, CI = 0.16-0.39) regions were independently associated with no misconceptions about TB transmission. Significant differences were also found in education, ethnicity and age.
Conclusion
That spatial and other socioeconomic difference exists in myths and misconceptions suggest the need for spatial, socioeconomic and demographic segmentations in IEC on TB. This holds potentials for reaching out to those who are in critical need of information and education on the transmission processes of TB.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-13-38
PMCID: PMC3847526  PMID: 24028419
Tuberculosis; Myths; Misconceptions transmission; Spatial; Ghana
18.  Unintended pregnancies and the use of maternal health services in southwestern Ethiopia 
Background
The benefits of maternal health care to maternal and neonatal health outcomes have been well documented. Antenatal care attendance, institutional delivery and skilled attendance at delivery all help to improve maternal and neonatal health. However, use of maternal health services is still very low in developing countries with high maternal mortality including Ethiopia. This study examines the association of unintended Pregnancy with the use of maternal health services in Southwestern Ethiopia.
Methods
Data for this study come from a survey conducted among 1370 women with a recent birth in a Health and Demographic Surveillance Site (HDSS) in southwestern Ethiopia. An interviewer administered questionnaire was used to gather data on maternal health care, pregnancy intention and other explanatory variables. Data were analyzed using STATA 11, and both bivariate and multivariate analyses were done. Multivariate logistic regression was used to assess the association of pregnancy intention with the use of antenatal and delivery care services. Unadjusted and adjusted odds ratio and their 95% confidence intervals are reported.
Results
More than one third (35%) of women reported that their most recent pregnancy was unintended. With regards to maternal health care, only 42% of women made at least one antenatal care visit during pregnancy, while 17% had four or more visits. Institutional delivery was only 12%. Unintended pregnancy was significantly (OR: 0.75, 95% CI, 0.58-0.97) associated with use of antenatal care services and receiving adequate antenatal care (OR: 0.67, 95% CI, 0.46-0.96), even after adjusting for other socio-demographic factors. However, for delivery care, the association with pregnancy intention was attenuated after adjustment. Other factors associated with antenatal care and delivery care include women’s education, urban residence, wealth and distance from health facility.
Conclusions
Women with unintended pregnancies were less likely to access or receive adequate antenatal care. Interventions are needed to reduce unintended pregnancy such as improving access to family planning information and services. Moreover, improving access to maternal health services and understanding women’s pregnancy intention at the time of first antenatal care visit is important to encourage women with unintended pregnancies to complete antenatal care.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-13-36
PMCID: PMC3844536  PMID: 24011335
Unintended pregnancy; Antenatal care; Delivery care; Southwestern Ethiopia
19.  Ghana’s National Health Insurance Scheme: a national level investigation of members’ perceptions of service provision 
Background
Ghana’s National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), established into law in 2003 and implemented in 2005 as a ‘pro-poor’ method of health financing, has made great progress in enrolling members of the general population. While many studies have focused on predictors of enrolment this study offers a novel analysis of NHIS members’ perceptions of service provision at the national level.
Methods
Using data from the 2008 Ghana Demographic Health Survey we analyzed the perceptions of service provision as indicated by members enrolled in the NHIS at the time of the survey (n = 3468; m = 1422; f = 2046). Ordinal Logistic Regression was applied to examine the relationship between perceptions of service provision and theoretically relevant socioeconomic and demographic variables.
Results
Results demonstrate that wealth, gender and ethnicity all play a role in influencing members’ perceptions of NHIS service provision, distinctive from its influence on enrolment. Notably, although wealth predicted enrolment in other studies, our study found that compared to the poorest men and uneducated women, wealthy men and educated women were less likely to perceive their service provision as better/same (more likely to report it was worse). Wealth was not an important factor for women, suggesting that household gender dynamics supersede household wealth status in influencing perceptions. As well, when compared to Akan women, women from all other ethnic groups were about half as likely to perceive the service provision to be better/same.
Conclusions
Findings of this study suggest there is an important difference between originally enrolling in the NHIS because one believes it is potentially beneficial, and using the NHIS and perceiving it to be of benefit. We conclude that understanding the nature of this relationship is essential for Ghana’s NHIS to ensure its longevity and meet its pro-poor mandate. As national health insurance systems are a relatively new phenomenon in sub-Saharan Africa little is known about their long term viability; understanding user perceptions of service provision is an important piece of that puzzle.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-13-35
PMCID: PMC3765400  PMID: 23968385
Health care; Ghana; Health insurance; National health insurance scheme; Perceptions; Service
21.  Measuring governance at health facility level: developing and validation of simple governance tool in Zambia 
Background
Governance has been cited as a key determinant of economic growth, social advancement and overall development. Achievement of millennium development goals is partly dependant on governance practices. In 2007, Health Systems 20/20 conducted an Internet-based survey on the practice of good governance. The survey posed a set of good practices related to health governance and asked respondents to indicate whether their experience confirmed or disconfirmed those practices. We applied the 17 governance statements in rural health facilities of Zambia. The aim was to establish whether the statements were reliable and valid for assessing governance practices at primary care level.
Methods
Both quantitative and qualitative methods were used. We first applied the governance statements developed by the health system 20/20 and then conducted focus group discussion and In-depth interviews to explore some elements of governance including accountability and community participation. The target respondents were the health facility management team and community members. The sample size include 42 health facilities. Data was analyzed using SPSS version 17 and Nvivo version 9.
Results
The 95% one-sided confidence interval for Cronbach’s alpha was between 0.69 and 0.74 for the 16 items.
The mean score for most of the items was above 3. Factor analysis yielded five principle components: Transparency, community participation, Intelligence & vision, Accountability and Regulation & oversight. Most of the items (6) clustered around the transparency latent factor. Chongwe district performed poorly in overall mean governance score and across the five domains of governance. The overall scores in Chongwe ranged between 51 and 94% with the mean of 80%. Kafue and Luangwa districts had similar overall mean governance scores (88%). Community participation was generally low. Generally, it was noted that community members lacked capacity to hold health workers accountable for drugs and medical supplies.
Conclusions
The study successfully validated and applied the new tool for evaluating health system governance at health facility level. The results have shown that it is feasible to measure governance practices at health facility level and that the adapted tool is fairly reliable with the 95% one-sided confidence interval for Cronbach’s alpha laying between 0.69 and 0.74 for the 16 items. Caution should be taken when interpreting overall scores as they tended to mask domain specific variations.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-13-34
PMCID: PMC3750565  PMID: 23927531
22.  Social disorganization and history of child sexual abuse against girls in sub-Saharan Africa: a multilevel analysis 
Background
Child sexual abuse (CSA) is a considerable public health problem. Less focus has been paid to the role of community level factors associated with CSA. The aim of this study was to examine the association between neighbourhood-level measures of social disorganization and CSA.
Methods
We applied multiple multilevel logistic regression analysis on Demographic and Health Survey data for 6,351 adolescents from six countries in sub-Saharan Africa between 2006 and 2008.
Results
The percentage of adolescents that had experienced CSA ranged from 1.04% to 5.84%. There was a significant variation in the odds of reporting CSA across the communities, suggesting 18% of the variation in CSA could be attributed to community level factors. Respondents currently employed were more likely to have reported CSA than those who were unemployed (odds ratio [OR] = 2.05, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.48 to 2.83). Respondents from communities with a high family disruption rate were 57% more likely to have reported CSA (OR=1.57, 95% CI 1.14 to 2.16).
Conclusion
We found that exposure to CSA was associated with high community level of family disruption, thus suggesting that neighbourhoods may indeed have significant important effects on exposure to CSA. Further studies are needed to explore pathways that connect the individual and neighbourhood levels, that is, means through which deleterious neighbourhood effects are transmitted to individuals.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-13-33
PMCID: PMC3750477  PMID: 23924347
Childhood sexual abuse; Sub-Saharan Africa; Socio-demographic factors; Demographic and health survey; Neighborhood; Social disorganization
23.  Understanding orphan and non-orphan adolescents’ sexual risks in the context of poverty: a qualitative study in Nyanza Province, Kenya 
Background
Some studies show orphanhood to be associated with increased sexual risk-taking while others have not established this relationship, but have found factors other than orphanhood as predictors of sexual risk behaviours and outcomes among adolescents. This study examines community members’ perceptions of how poverty influences adolescent sexual behaviour and outcomes in four districts of Nyanza Province, Kenya.
Methods
Eight study sites within the four districts were randomly selected. Focus group discussions were conducted with a purposive sample of adolescents, parents and caregivers. Key informant interviews were undertaken with a purposive sample of community leaders, child welfare and healthcare workers, and adolescents. The two methods elicited information on factors perceived to predispose adolescent orphans and non-orphans to sexual risks. Data were analysed through line-by-line coding, grouped into families and retrieved as themes and sub-themes.
Results
Participants included 147 adolescents and parents/caregivers in 14 focus groups and 13 key informants. Poverty emerged as a key predisposing factor to sexual risk behaviour among orphans and non-orphans. Poverty was associated with lack of food, poor housing, school dropout, and engaging in income generating activities, all of which increase their vulnerability to transactional sex, early marriage, sexual experimentation, and the eventual consequences of increased risk of unintended pregnancies and STI/HIV.
Conclusion
Poverty was perceived to contribute to increasing sexual risks among orphan and non-orphan adolescents through survival strategies adopted to be able to meet their basic needs. Policies for prevention and intervention that target adolescents in a generalized poverty and HIV epidemic should integrate economic empowerment for caregivers and life skills for adolescents to reduce vulnerabilities of orphan and non-orphan adolescents to sexual risk behaviour.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-13-32
PMCID: PMC3725178  PMID: 23886019
Poverty; Orphan; Non-orphan; Adolescents; Sexual risk behaviour
24.  Illegal yet developmentally normative: a descriptive analysis of young, urban adolescents’ dating and sexual behaviour in Cape Town, South Africa 
Background
In South Africa, it is illegal for adolescents under age 16 years to engage in any sexual behaviour whether kissing, petting, or penetrative sex, regardless of consent. This cross-sectional study investigated the extent to which young adolescents engage in various sexual behaviours and the associations between dating status and sexual behaviours.
Method
Grade 8 adolescents (N = 474, ages 12–15 years, mean = 14.14 years) recruited from Cape Town schools completed surveys providing information about their sociodemographic backgrounds, dating experience, sexual behaviour, and substance use.
Results
Lower hierarchy sexual behaviours, such as kissing (71.4% of girls; 88.4% of boys), were more common than oral (3.9% of girls; 13.8% of boys), vaginal (9.3% of girls; 30.0% of boys), or anal (1.4% of girls; 10.5% of boys) sex. Currently dating girls and boys were more likely to engage in sexual behaviours including several risk behaviours in comparison to their currently non-dating counterparts. These risk behaviours included penetrative sex (21.1% of dating vs. 4.5% of non-dating girls; 49.4% of dating vs. 20.2% of non-dating boys), sex with co-occurring substance use (22.2% of dating vs. 0 non-dating girls; 32.1% of dating vs. 40% of non-dating boys), and no contraceptive use (26.1% of sexually experienced girls; 44.4% of sexually experienced boys). Among girls, there were significant associations between ever having penetrative sex and SES (OR = 2.592, p = 0.017) and never dating (OR = 0.330, p = 0.016). Among boys, there were significant associations between ever having penetrative sex and never dating (OR = 0.162, p = 0.008). Although the currently dating group of young adolescents appear to be a precocious group in terms of risk behaviour relative to the currently non-dating group, teenagers in both groups had experience in the full range of sexual behaviours.
Conclusions
Many young adolescents are engaging in a variety of sexual behaviours ranging from kissing and touching to intercourse. Of particular concern are those engaging in risky sexual behaviour. These findings indicate that adolescents need to be prepared for sexual negotiation and decision-making from an early age through comprehensive and accessible education and health services; sections of current legislation may be a barrier to adopting such policies and practices.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-13-31
PMCID: PMC3718713  PMID: 23841894
Adolescent; Sexual behaviour; Courtship; South Africa; Health policy; Health legislation
25.  Effect of the conditional cash transfer program Oportunidades on vaccination coverage in older Mexican people 
Background
Immunization is one of the most effective ways of preventing illness, disability and death from infectious diseases for older people. However, worldwide immunization rates are still low, particularly for the most vulnerable groups within the elderly population. The objective of this study was to estimate the effect of the Oportunidades -an incentive-based poverty alleviation program- on vaccination coverage for poor and rural older people in Mexico.
Methods
Cross-sectional study, based on 2007 Oportunidades Evaluation Survey, conducted in low-income households from 741 rural communities (localities with <2,500 inhabitants) of 13 Mexican states. Vaccination coverage was defined according to three individual vaccines: tetanus, influenza and pneumococcal, and for complete vaccination schedule. Propensity score matching and linear probability model were used in order to estimate the Oportunidades effect.
Results
12,146 older people were interviewed, and 7% presented cognitive impairment. Among remaining, 4,628 were matched. Low coverage rates were observed for the vaccines analyzed. For Oportunidades and non-Oportunidades populations were 46% and 41% for influenza, 52% and 45% for pneumococcal disease, and 79% and 71% for tetanus, respectively. Oportunidades effect was significant in increasing the proportion of older people vaccinated: for complete schedule 5.5% (CI95% 2.8-8.3), for influenza 6.9% (CI95% 3.8-9.6), for pneumococcal 7.2% (CI95% 4.3-10.2), and for tetanus 6.6% (CI95% 4.1-9.2).
Conclusions
The results of this study extend the evidence on the effect that conditional transfer programs exert on health indicators. In particular, Oportunidades increased vaccination rates in the population of older people. There is a need to continue raising vaccination rates, however, particularly for the most vulnerable older people.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-13-30
PMCID: PMC3711738  PMID: 23835202
Older people; Vaccination coverage; Conditional cash transfer; Propensity score matching

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