BMC International Health and Human Rights is an open access journal publishing original peer-reviewed research articles in relation to health and disease in developing and transitional countries, as well as all issues relating to the impact of health policies, programs and practices on human rights. BMC International Health and Human Rights is indexed/tracked/covered by PubMed, CAS, Scopus, EMBASE and Google Scholar.

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  • Where boys don’t dance, but women still thrive: using a development approach as a means of reconciling the right to health with the legitimization of cultural practices

    Melisa Demir; Bilkis Vissandjée; Danielle Jacobson; Gillian Einstein (BMC, 2020-06-01)
    Abstract Human rights language has become a common method of internationally denouncing violent, discriminatory or otherwise harmful practices, notably by framing them as reprehensible violations of those fundamental rights we obtain by virtue of being human. While often effective, such women’s rights discourse becomes delicate when used to challenge practices, which are of important cultural significance to the communities in which they are practiced. This paper analyses human rights language to challenge the gender disparity in access to health care and in overall health outcomes in certain countries where such disparities are influenced by important cultural values and practices. This paper will provide selected examples of machismo and marianismo discourses in certain Latin American countries on the one hand and of female genital cutting/excision (FGC/E) in practicing countries, both of which exposed to women’s rights language, notably for causing violations of women’s right to health. In essence, a reflective exercise is provided here with the argument that framing such discourses and practices as women’s rights violations. Calling for their abandonment have shown that it may not only be ineffective nor at times appropriate, it also risks delegitimizing associated discourses, norms and practices thereby enhancing criticisms of the women’s rights movement rather than adopting its principles. A sensitive community-based collaborative approach aimed at understanding and building cultural discourses to one, which promotes women’s capabilities and health, is proposed as a more effective means at bridging cultural and gender gaps.
  • Development and validation of the LoVI: the Laws on Violence against women and girls Index

    Kathryn M. Yount; Patricia C. Lewis; Cari Jo Clark; Lori Heise; Ruchira T. Naved; Lauren Maxwell (BMC, 2020-05-01)
    Abstract Background Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is a human-rights violation with adverse long-term and inter-generational consequences. Redefining VAWG as legally unacceptable is one strategy for social change. The co-occurrence of national laws against VAWG is understudied, and tools to monitor the national legal environment are lacking. We developed the Laws on Violence against Women and Girls Index (LoVI) to measure global progress to develop comprehensive national legislation against child marriage, sexual harassment, domestic violence, and marital rape. Methods Using data from 2016 and 2018 for 189 countries from the World Bank Women, Business, and the Law database, we used factor analysis to assess the dimensionality of the LoVI. We examined the distribution of the LoVI across countries and regions, and the relationship of national rankings on the LoVI with those for other indicators from the United Nations, Demographic and Health Surveys, and World Factbook. Results A single LoVI factor showed good model fit in the factor analysis. National LoVI rankings were positively associated with gender equality in human development and economic rights-related rankings and negatively associated with rates of justifying wife beating and of lifetime and prior-year physical and/or sexual IPV. The LoVI was not associated with national indicators for human development and income inequality. Conclusion The LoVI is a concise, coherent, validated index to monitor the progress of nations on adopting comprehensive legislation to advance 2030 Sustainable Development Goal 5, to eliminate VAWG.
  • “An ethnographic exploration of factors that drive policing of street-based female sex workers in a U.S. setting - identifying opportunities for intervention”

    Katherine H. A. Footer; Bradley E. Silberzahn; Sahnah Lim; Steven Huettner; Victor A. Kumar; Derek Loeffler; Sarah M. Peitzmeier; Susan G. Sherman (BMC, 2020-05-01)
    Abstract Background Building on a broader sociological discourse around policing approaches towards vulnerable populations, increasing public health and human rights evidence points to policing practices as a key health determinant, particularly among street-based sex workers. Despite the importance of policing as a structural health determinant, few studies have sought to understand the factors that underlie and shape harmful policing practices towards sex workers. This study therefore aimed to explore the drivers for policing attitudes and practices towards street-based cisgender female sex workers. Methods Drawing on ethnographic methods, 280 h of observations with police patrol and 10 stakeholder interviews with senior police leadership in Baltimore City, USA were carried out to better understand the drivers for policing strategies towards cisgender female sex workers. Analysis was data- and theory-driven, drawing on the concepts of police culture and complementary criminological and sociological literature that aided exploration of the influence of the ecological and structural environment on policing practices. Results Ecological factors at the structural (e.g., criminalization), organizational (e.g., violent crime control), community and individual level (e.g., stigmatizing attitudes) emerged as key to shaping individual police practices and attitudes towards cisgender female sex workers in this setting. Findings indicate senior police support for increased alignment with public health and human rights goals. However, the study highlights that interventions need to move beyond individual officer training and address the broader structural and organizational setting in which harmful police practices towards sex work operate. Conclusions A more in-depth understanding of the circumstances that drive law enforcement approaches to street-based sex work is critical to the collaborative design of interventions with police in different settings. In considering public health-police partnerships to address the rights and health of sex worker populations in the U.S. and elsewhere, this study supports existing calls for decriminalization of sex work, supported by institutional and policy reforms, neighborhood-level dialogues that shift the cultural landscape around sex work within both the police and larger community, and innovative individual-level police trainings.
  • Community perspectives on the extent to which transactional sex is viewed as sexual exploitation in Central Uganda

    N. Kyegombe; R. Meiksin; S. Namakula; J. Mulindwa; R. Muhumuza; J. Wamoyi; L. Heise; A. M. Buller (BMC, 2020-05-01)
    Abstract Background Definitions of child sexual exploitation vary. Sexual exploitation violates children’s rights and exposes them to mental and physical harm. There exist differences in views of behaviour that is considered exploitative, including transactional sex. This paper explores community perspectives on the extent to which transactional sex is considered exploitative. Methods In 2014, we conducted 19 focus group discussions and 44 in-depth interviews with young people and adults in two communities in Uganda. Participants were presented with vignettes describing sexual encounters between adolescent girls and young women and men to explore under what conditions participants considered the scenario to be exploitative and why. Interviews were conducted in Luganda using a semi-structured tool, audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. Analysis was thematic and complemented by constant comparison and deviant case analysis techniques. Results Definitions by multilateral, bilateral, and non-governmental organisations of the sexual exploitation of children shared similarities with community conceptualisations of wrong or unfair sex. Although in community conceptualisations there was no consensus on what constituted sexual exploitation, transactional sex was condemned to the extent to which it involved sex with a minor or misled a naïve or immature girl; involved lack of consent, particularly in relationships characterised by power differentials; or worsened the pre-existing status of the girl. Also relevant was the extent to which a man’s intentions were considered inappropriate; the adolescent girl or young woman was considered vulnerable; and the adolescent girl or young woman was considered responsible for ‘her situation’. Conclusions Existing social norms that condemn sex with a minor or sex that involves deception, sexual coercion or misleading an immature girl, present opportunities to mobilise communities to protect adolescent girls and young women at risk. Any intervention must, however, be designed with full cognisance of the social and structural drivers that underlie transactional sex and limit adolescent girls’ and young women’s opportunities to provide for themselves without recourse to sexual relationships with men. Interventions must also be designed to recognise that girls in transactional sex relationships may not consider themselves as exploited, thus requiring engagement with them based on their own concerns, aspirations, and expectations.
  • An investigation into the association of pre- and post-migration experiences on the self-rated health status among new resettled adult humanitarian refugees to Australia: a protocol for a mixed methods study

    Alison Dowling; Joanne Enticott; Marina Kunin; Grant Russell (BMC, 2019-04-01)
    Abstract Background Refugees are one of the most vulnerable groups in our society. They are at risk of poor physical and mental health outcomes, much of this attributed to traumatic events prior to migration and the additional risk factors refugees face in the host nations. However, how migration factors shape the health of resettling refugees is not well understood. This study uses a mixed methods approach to examine how pre- and post-migration factors shape the self-rated health of resettling adult refugees in an effort to address the current knowledge gap. Methods This study will use a sequential explanatory mixed method study design. We begin by analyzing resettlement and health data from the ‘Building a New Life In Australia’ longitudinal study of humanitarian refugees resettled in Australia to identify significant associations between migration factors and refugee health. Then, a series of semi-structured interviews with resettled refugees will further explore the lived experiences of refugees with respect to the relationship between migration and refugee health. Finally, we will integrate both sets of findings to develop a detailed understanding of how and why migratory factors contribute to refugee health during resettlement. Discussion There is a paucity of studies that examine the multidimensional nature of refugee health during resettlement and as a result, little is understood about their resettlement health needs. This information is required to inform existing or new resettlement interventions to help promote or improve refugee health. To overcome these limitations in the research knowledge, this study will use a mixture of study methods to illustrate the complex and multifaceted determinants of refugee health during resettlement in Australia.
  • Scheduling medicines as controlled substances: addressing normative and democratic gaps through human rights-based analysis

    Diederik Lohman; Damon Barrett (BMC, 2020-04-01)
    Abstract Recent years have seen contentious debate about efforts to schedule medicines such as ketamine and tramadol under the international drug control conventions. Proponents argue that misuse poses a significant risk to public health and that scheduling would help address these problems. However, scheduling of medicines can negatively affect their availability, accessibility and affordability for medical purposes, with serious health consequences for patients, especially in low and middle-income countries. The current process for scheduling medicines under the international drug control conventions does not provide sufficient normative standards through which balanced decisions may be reached. It is undemocratic in its structure and opaque in its reasoning. In this article, we argue that such decisions represent de facto limitations on the right to health and may engage the principle of non-retrogression. Using the examples of ketamine and tramadol, we propose that standard legal tests in international human rights law can help to address the normative and democratic deficits in the system and produce more rigorous, fairer and more transparent decisions.
  • Misoprostol for the prevention of post-partum haemorrhage in Mozambique: an analysis of the interface between human rights, maternal health and development

    Karen Hobday; Anthony B. Zwi; Caroline Homer; Renae Kirkham; Jennifer Hulme; Páscoa Zualo Wate; Ndola Prata (BMC, 2020-04-01)
    Abstract Background Mozambique has high maternal mortality which is compounded by limited human resources for health, weak access to health services, and poor development indicators. In 2011, the Mozambique Ministry of Health (MoH) approved the distribution of misoprostol for the prevention of post-partum haemorrhage (PPH) at home births where oxytocin is not available. Misoprostol can be administered by a traditional birth attendant or self-administered. The objective of this paper is to examine, through applying a human rights lens, the broader contextual, policy and institutional issues that have influenced and impacted the early implementation of misoprostol for the prevention of PPH. We explore the utility of rights-based framework to inform this particular program, with implications for sexual and reproductive health programs more broadly. Methods A human rights, health and development framework was used to analyse the early expansion phase of the scale-up of Mozambique’s misoprostol program in two provinces. A policy document review was undertaken to contextualize the human rights, health and development setting in Mozambique. Qualitative primary data from a program evaluation of misoprostol for the prevention of PPH was then analysed using a human rights lens; these results are presented alongside three examples where rights are constrained. Results Structural and institutional challenges exacerbated gaps in the misoprostol program, and sexual and reproductive health more generally. While enshrined in the constitution and within health policy documents, human rights were not fully met and many individuals in the study were unaware of their rights. Lack of information about the purpose of misoprostol and how to access the medication contributed to power imbalances between the state, health care workers and beneficiaries. The accessibility of misoprostol was further limited due to dynamics of power and control. Conclusions Applying a rights-based approach to the Mozambican misoprostol program is helpful in contextualising and informing the practical changes needed to improve access to misoprostol as an essential medicine, and in turn, preventing PPH. This study adds to the evidence of the interconnection between human rights, health and development and the importance of integrating the concepts to ensure women’s rights are prioritized within health service delivery.
  • Community mobilisation to prevent violence against women and girls in eastern India through participatory learning and action with women’s groups facilitated by accredited social health activists: a before-and-after pilot study

    Nirmala Nair; Nayreen Daruwalla; David Osrin; Suchitra Rath; Sumitra Gagrai; Rebati Sahu; Hemanta Pradhan; Megha De; Gauri Ambavkar; Nibha Das (BMC, 2020-03-01)
    Abstract Background Almost one in three married Indian women have ever experienced physical, sexual, or emotional violence from husbands in their lifetime. We aimed to investigate the preliminary effects of community mobilisation through participatory learning and action groups facilitated by Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs), coupled with access to counselling, to prevent violence against women and girls in Jharkhand, eastern India. Methods We piloted a cycle of 16 participatory learning and action meetings with women’s groups facilitated by ASHAs in rural Jharkhand. Participants identified common forms of violence against women and girls, prioritised the ones they wanted to address, developed locally feasible strategies to address them, implemented the strategies, and evaluated the process. We also trained two counsellors and two ASHA supervisors to support survivors, and gave ASHAs information about legal, health, and police services. We did a before-and-after pilot study involving baseline and endline surveys with group members to estimate preliminary effects of these activities on the acceptability of violence, prevalence of past year emotional and physical violence, and help-seeking. Results ASHAs successfully conducted monthly participatory learning and action meetings with 39 women’s groups in 22 villages of West Singhbhum district, Jharkhand, between June 2016 and September 2017. We interviewed 59% (679/1149) of women registered with groups at baseline, and 63% (861/1371) at endline. More women reported that violence was unacceptable in all seven scenarios presented to them at endline compared to baseline (adjusted Odds Ratio [aOR]: 1.87, 95%: 1.39–2.52). Fewer women reported experiencing emotional violence from their husbands in the last 12 months (aOR: 0.55, 95% CI: 0.43–0.71), and more sought help if it occurred (aOR: 2.19, 95% CI: 1.51–3.17). In addition, fewer women reported experiencing emotional or physical violence from family members other than their husbands in the last 12 months (aOR: 0.41, 95% CI: 0.32–0.53, and aOR: 0.36, 95% CI: 0.26–0.50, respectively). Conclusion Combining participatory learning and action meetings facilitated by ASHAs with access to counselling was an acceptable strategy to address violence against women and girls in rural communities of Jharkhand. The approach warrants further implementation and evaluation as part of a comprehensive response to violence.
  • Expanding the role of paralegals: supporting realization of the right to health for vulnerable communities

    Albert Wirya; Ajeng Larasati; Sofia Gruskin; Laura Ferguson (BMC, 2020-03-01)
    Abstract Background All around the world, the paralegal program prepares members of marginalized communities to face the legal system. Having a common background with their clients and being capable of conducting flexible work, paralegals’ role moves beyond enlarging the beneficiaries of legal aid to addressing intersectional issues around health-related rights. This study assesses the health and other impacts of paralegals recruited by Lembaga Bantuan Hukum Masyarakat (LBHM), a human rights organization which provides legal assistance and operates in Jakarta, Indonesia. The positive results these paralegals can bring in the specific context can contribute to the development of community-based paralegals elsewhere. Methods This mixed methods research was carried out in 2016–2018. In 2016, a quantitative survey was administered to LBHM-trained paralegals and a sub-set of paralegals who completed the survey were then also interviewed. Quantitative data were analysed using SPSS, and, for the qualitative data, thematic analysis was conducted. Results The paralegals make important contributions to health-related rights in four distinct ways. Firstly, most of the paralegals checked their clients’ health in all stages of detention, especially regarding their drug dependency status and checking for signs of torture. Secondly, paralegals help clients to be more aware of their health-related rights, especially regarding their rights to obtain health services inside detention. Thirdly, paralegals can ensure that their clients obtain health services by taking medicines directly to the clients or encouraging the law enforcement agencies to refer the clients to health services. Lastly, in drug cases, paralegals help their clients to obtain alternative sentences besides imprisonment. Conclusions These four contributions verify the positive impacts paralegals, recruited from marginalized communities, can deliver for community members facing criminal justice processes. The shifting role of paralegals from merely an intermediary between clients and lawyers to champions of the health-related rights of their clients can happen as a result of adequate training, support, and networks with other agents in criminal justice system.
  • Assessing medical impoverishment and associated factors in health care in Ethiopia

    Amarech G. Obse; John E. Ataguba (BMC, 2020-03-01)
    Abstract Background About 5% of the global population, predominantly in low- and middle-income countries, is forced into poverty because of out-of-pocket (OOP) health spending. In most countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the share of OOP health spending in current health expenditure exceeds 35%, increasing the likelihood of impoverishment. In Ethiopia, OOP payments remained high at 37% of current health expenditure in 2016. This study assesses the impoverishment resulting from OOP health spending in Ethiopia and the associated factors. Methods This paper uses data from the Ethiopian Household Consumption Expenditure Survey (HCES) 2010/11. The HCES covered 10,368 rural and 17,664 urban households. OOP health spending includes spending on various outpatient and inpatient services. Impoverishing impact of OOP health spending was estimated by comparing poverty estimates before and after OOP health spending. A probit model was used to assess factors that are associated with impoverishment. Results Using the Ethiopian national poverty line of Birr 3781 per person per year (equivalent to US$2.10 per day), OOP health spending pushed about 1.19% of the population (i.e. over 957,169 individuals) into poverty. At the regional level, impoverishment ranged between 2.35% in Harari and 0.35% in Addis Ababa. Living in rural areas (highland, moderate, or lowland) increased the likelihood of impoverishment compared to residing in an urban area. Households headed by males and adults with formal education are less likely to be impoverished by OOP health spending, compared to their counterparts. Conclusion In Ethiopia, OOP health spending impoverishes a significant number of the population. Although the country had piloted and initiated many reforms, e.g. the fee waiver system and community-based health insurance, a significant proportion of the population still lacks financial protection. The estimates of impoverishment from out-of-pocket payments reported in this paper do not consider individuals that are already poor before paying out-of-pocket for health services. It is important to note that this population may either face deepening poverty or forgo healthcare services if a need arises. More is therefore required to provide financial protection to achieve universal health coverage in Ethiopia, where the informal sector is relatively large.
  • Sexual and reproductive health rights knowledge and reproductive health services utilization among rural reproductive age women in Aleta Wondo District, Sidama zone, Ethiopia: community based cross-sectional study

    Tariku Tadesse; Mesay Hailu Dangisso; Teshome Abuka Abebo (BMC, 2020-03-01)
    Abstract Background Various countries in the world have achieved promising progress in promoting, protecting and guaranteeing sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHRs) since the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo. However, SRHRs have not been recognized to their maximum potential in Ethiopia, despite the domestication of the international instruments related to their successful implementation. This study was intended to determine the magnitude of SRHRs knowledge, reproductive health services utilization and their independent predictors among rural reproductive-age women in the Aleta Wondo District, Ethiopia. Methods A community-based cross-sectional study was conducted among 833 rural reproductive-age women from April to May 2019. A systematic random sampling technique was employed to select households, and a structured questionnaire was used to gather the data. EPI INFO version 7 was used to enter the data, and SPSS version 23 was used for data analysis. Logistic regression analysis was employed to assess the association between outcomes and explanatory variables. Odds ratios at 95% CI were also computed and reported. Results Of 833 respondents, 43.9% had good knowledge of SRHR, and 37% had used at least one sexual and reproductive health (SRH) service. Variables that had a statistically significant association with SRHR knowledge in multivariable analysis were: had formal education, household with the highest income, having information sources for SRH services, and knowing about SRH services and providing institutions. SRH services utilization was associated with: having information sources for SRH services, had formal education, household with the highest income, and knowing about SRH services and providing institutions. Conclusion In this study demographic and economic factors, such as education and household monthly income were positively identified as independent predictors for knowledge of SRHR and SRH services utilization. Therefore, responsible government sectors and NGOs should design and implement programs to promote women’s educational status and household economic status to enhance women’s SRHR knowledge and SRH services utilization.
  • Sexual and reproductive health of women living with HIV in Muslim-majority countries: a systematic mixed studies review

    Dyah Juliastuti; Judith Dean; Lisa Fitzgerald (BMC, 2020-03-01)
    Abstract Background The number of women living with the human immunodeficiency virus (WLHIV) in Muslim-majority countries has increased significantly in the last decade. These women are often marginalized and face insecure sexual and reproductive health (SRH) needs and rights. However, little is known about the multi-faceted factors influencing these women’s fertility, contraceptive, and perinatal decisions and sexual life. This systematic mixed studies review aimed to synthesize the empirical evidence on social, cultural, and structural factors influencing the SRH of WLHIV in Muslim-majority countries. Methods This review provides a synthesis of quantitative, qualitative and mixed-method research findings searched from PubMed, EMBASE, Scopus, CINAHL and Cochrane databases. We screened 3452 SRH studies involving WLHIV. The studies, published in English between 2008 and 2017, were from 20 Muslim-majority countries with increased numbers of WLHIV. The quality of eligible studies was appraised using a mixed-methods appraisal tool (MMAT) version 2011. Findings were thematically analysed by a hybrid deductive-inductive approach. Two independent reviewers were involved in the study selection, data extraction, quality appraisal, and data synthesis. Results We included 13 SRH-related studies involving 1748 WLHIV in eight Muslim-majority countries. Most of these studies explored fertility desire and sexual health, while only a small proportion related to contraceptive use and the perinatal-care experience. We identified that WLHIV faced neglect of their SRH rights. These rights were predominantly affected by the socio-cultural, religious and health-services context of the women’s lives, which directed them to unsafe sex practices and stressful perinatal experiences. Conclusions This study points to the need for SRH laws, policies, and interventions which stop WLHIV experiencing SRH discrimination violence and achieving their SRH rights.
  • Exploring barriers to seeking health care among Kenyan Somali women with female genital mutilation: a qualitative study

    Samuel Kimani; Caroline W. Kabiru; Jacinta Muteshi; Jaldesa Guyo (BMC, 2020-01-01)
    Abstract Background Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) is a cultural practice associated with health consequences, women rights and deprivation of dignity. Despite FGM/C-related health consequences, circumcised women may encounter additional challenges while seeking interventions for reproductive health problems. Experiences of women/girls while accessing health services for reproductive health problems including FGM/C-related complications in poor, remote and hard to reach areas is poorly understood. We sought to explore barriers to care seeking among Somali women with complications related to FGM/C in public health facilities in Kenya. Methods We drew on qualitative data collected from purposively selected women aged 15–49 years living with FGM/C, their partners, community leaders, and health providers in Nairobi and Garissa Counties. Data were collected using in-depth interviews (n = 10), key informant interviews (n = 23) and 20 focus group discussions. Data were transcribed and analyzed thematically using NVivo version 12. Results Barriers were grouped into four thematic categories. Structural barriers to care-seeking, notably high cost of care, distance from health facilities, and lack of a referral system. Concerns regarding perceived quality of care also presented a barrier. Women questioned health professionals’ and health facilities’ capacity to offer culturally-sensitive FGM/C-specific care, plus ensuring confidentiality and privacy. Women faced socio-cultural barriers while seeking care particularly cultural taboos against discussing matters related to sexual health with male clinicians. Additionally, fear of legal sanctions given the anti-FGM/C law deterred women with FGM/C-related complications from seeking healthcare. Conclusion Structural, socio-cultural, quality of service, and legal factors limit health seeking for reproductive health problems including FGM/C-related complications. Strengthening health system should consider integration of FGM/C-related interventions with existing maternal child health services for cost effectiveness, efficiency and quality care. The interventions should address health-related financial, physical and communication barriers, while ensuring culturally-sensitive and confidential care.
  • Trends in prevalence and correlates of intimate partner violence against women in Zimbabwe, 2005–2015

    Jeanette Iman’ishimwe Mukamana; Pamela Machakanja; Nicholas Kofi Adjei (BMC, 2020-01-01)
    Abstract Background Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a widespread problem affecting all cultures and socioeconomic groups. This study explored the trends in prevalence and risk factors associated with IPV among Zimbabwean women of reproductive age (15–49 years) from 2005 to 2015. Methods Data from the 2005/2006, 2010/2011 and 2015 Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Survey (ZDHS) on 13,409 women (survey year: 2005/2006; n = 4081), (survey year: 2010/2011; n = 4411) and (survey year: 2015; n = 4917) were analyzed. Multiple logistic regressions and hierarchical modelling techniques were applied to examine the associations between demographic characteristics, socioeconomic status, media exposure and IPV against women. We further estimated IPV prevalence by type (physical, sexual and emotional) over time. Results The prevalence of IPV decreased from 45.2% in 2005 to 40.9% in 2010, and then increased to 43.1% in 2015. Some of the risk factors associated with IPV were younger age, low economic status, cohabitation and rural residence. Educational attainment of women was however not significantly associated with IPV. Conclusions The findings indicate that women of reproductive age are at high and increasing risk of physical and emotional violence. There is thus an urgent need for an integrated policy approach to address the rise of IPV related physical and emotional violence against women in Zimbabwe.
  • The patient voice: a survey of worries and anxieties during health system transition in HIV services in Vietnam

    Shoko Matsumoto; Hoai Dung Thi Nguyen; Dung Thi Nguyen; Giang Van Tran; Junko Tanuma; Daisuke Mizushima; Kinh Van Nguyen; Shinichi Oka (BMC, 2020-01-01)
    Abstract Background Vietnam is shifting toward integrating HIV services into the public health system using social health insurance (SHI), and the HIV service delivery system is becoming decentralized. The study aim was to investigate current SHI coverage and patients’ perspectives on this transition. Methods A survey of 1348 HIV-positive patients on antiretroviral therapy (aged ≥18 years) was conducted at an HIV outpatient clinic at a central-level hospital in Hanoi, Vietnam, in October and November 2018. Insurance coverage, reasons for not having a SHI card, perceived concerns about receiving HIV services in SHI-registered local health facilities, and willingness to continue regularly visiting the current hospital were self-reported. Logistic regression analyses were performed to analyze factors associated with not having a SHI card and having concerns about receiving HIV services in SHI-registered hospitals/clinics. Results SHI coverage was 78.0%. The most frequently reported reason for not having a SHI card was that obtaining one was burdensome, followed by lack of information on how to obtain a card, and financial problems. Most patients (86.6%) had concerns about receiving HIV services at SHI-registered local health facilities, and disclosure of HIV status to neighbors and low quality of HIV services were the main concerns reported. Participants aged < 40 years old and unmarried were more likely to report lack of SHI cards, and women and those aged ≥40 years were more likely to have concerns. However, 91.4% of patients showed willingness to continue regular visits to the current hospital. Conclusions Although SHI coverage has been rapidly improving among HIV patients, most participants had concerns about the current system transition in Vietnam. In response to their voiced concerns, strengthening the link between higher-level and lower-level facilities may help to ensure good quality HIV services at all levels while mitigating patients’ worries and anxieties.
  • Prevalence of child marriage and its impact on fertility outcomes in 34 sub-Saharan African countries

    Sanni Yaya; Emmanuel Kolawole Odusina; Ghose Bishwajit (BMC, 2019-12-01)
    Abstract Background The issue of child marriage is a form of human rights violation among young women mainly in resource-constrained countries. Over the past decades, child marriage has gained attention as a threat to women’s health and autonomy. This study explores the prevalence of child marriage among women aged 20–24 years in sub-Saharan Africa countries and examines the association between child marriage and fertility outcomes. Methods Latest DHS data from 34 sub-Saharan African countries were used in this study. Sixty thousand two hundred and fifteen women aged 20–24 years were included from the surveys conducted 2008–2017. The outcome variables were childbirth within the first year of marriage (early fertility), first preceding birth interval less than 24 months (rapid repeat of childbirth), unintended pregnancy, lifetime pregnancy termination, the use of modern contraceptive methods, lifetime fertility and any childbirth. The main explanatory variable was child marriage (< 18 years) and the associations between child marriage and fertility outcomes were examined from the ever-married subsample to estimate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% CIs using binary logistic regression models. Results In the study population, the overall prevalence of women who experience child marriage was 54.0% while results showed large disparities across sub-Saharan African countries ranging from 16.5 to 81.7%. The prominent countries in child marriage were; Niger (81.7%), Chad (77.9%), Guinea (72.8%), Mali (69.0%) and Nigeria (64.0%). Furthermore, women who experience child marriage were 8.00 times as likely to have ≥3 number of children ever born (lifetime fertility), compared to women married at ≥18 years (OR = 8.00; 95%CI: 7.52, 8.46). Women who experience child marriage were 1.13 times as likely to use modern contraceptive methods, compared to adult marriage women (OR = 1.13; 95%CI: 1.09, 1.19). Those who married before the legal age were 1.27 times as likely to have lifetime terminated pregnancy, compared to women married at ≥18 years (OR = 1.27; 95%CI: 1.20, 1.34). Also women married at < 18 years were more likely to experience childbirth, compared to women married later (OR = 5.83; 95%CI: 5.45, 6.24). However, women married at < 18 years had a reduction in early childbirth and a rapid repeat of childbirth respectively. Conclusion Implementing policies and programmmes against child marriage would help to prevent adverse outcomes among women in sub-Saharan Africa. Also, social change programmes on child-marriage would help to reduce child marriage, encourage the use of modern contraceptive, which would minimize lifetime terminated pregnancy and also children ever born.
  • Protocol of a longitudinal study on the specific needs of Syrian refugee families in Switzerland

    Nahema El Ghaziri; Jérémie Blaser; Joëlle Darwiche; Joan-Carles Suris; Javier Sanchis Zozaya; Régis Marion-Veyron; Dario Spini; Patrick Bodenmann (BMC, 2019-12-01)
    Abstract Background The ongoing Syrian civil war has led to massive population displacements, leading to the reorganization of the asylum policies of several countries. Accordingly, like other European countries, the Swiss government has recently chosen to implement a specific resettlement program. This program is characterized by the fact that the whole nuclear family is granted a work and residence permit upon arrival, and benefits from enhanced integration services. The aim of the present project is to evaluate the effects of the Swiss resettlement program, with a special focus on mental health, while adopting a family perspective. Methods The outcomes of 15 Syrian families taking part in this program will be compared to those of 15 Syrian families that came to Switzerland through other means (i.e., following the usual asylum procedure, which is much more stressful and time consuming). Each family member above 8 years old will be invited to participate to a 3-wave longitudinal survey concerning the resettlement process: upon arrival in the collective shelters, six and 12 months later. Questionnaires will be used for the evaluation of participants’ mental health, risk behaviors, general health, romantic relationship, parent-child relationship, family functioning, parentification, social support, and social identities related to group belongingness. Discussion The findings of the present project will provide longitudinal information on Syrian refugees. A comprehensive approach will be adopted by screening potential difficulties that the sample may be faced with and potential strengths that participants may rely on. Accordingly, physical and mental health, as well as the quality of family functioning, the feeling of support and of belongingness to different groups will be evaluated. We will also compare the results of families who had the chance to immigrate through the Swiss resettlement program, to the results of families that did not. This comparison will allow the elaboration of hypotheses regarding adjusted asylum policies. Furthermore, it will enhance our knowledge regarding the impact of displacement on the family system. Indeed, although the role of the family for the well-being of adults and children has been established, surprisingly few studies have adopted this focus in the asylum field.
  • Prevalence of intimate partner violence against women in the Arab world: a systematic review

    Tatiana Elghossain; Sarah Bott; Chaza Akik; Carla Makhlouf Obermeyer (BMC, 2019-10-01)
    Abstract Background Violence against women has particular importance for women’s health and wellbeing in the Arab world, where women face persistent barriers to social, political and economic equality. This review aims to summarize what is known about the prevalence of physical, sexual and emotional/psychological intimate partner violence (IPV) against women in the 22 countries of the Arab League, including geographic coverage, quality and comparability of the evidence. Methods A systematic review of IPV prevalence in Arab countries was carried out among peer-reviewed journal articles and national, population-based survey reports published by international research programmes and/or governments. Following PRISMA guidelines, Medline and the Social Sciences Citation Index were searched with Medical Subject Headings terms and key words related to IPV and the names of Arab countries. Eligible sources were published between January 2000 and January 2016, in any language. United Nations databases and similar sources were searched for national surveys. Study characteristics, operational definitions and prevalence data were extracted into a database using Open Data Kit Software. Risk of bias was assessed with a structured checklist. Results The search identified 74 records with population or facility-based IPV prevalence data from eleven Arab countries, based on 56 individual datasets. These included 46 separate survey datasets from peer-reviewed journals and 11 national surveys published by international research programmes and/or governments. Seven countries had national, population-based IPV estimates. Reported IPV prevalence (ever) ranged from 6% to more than half (59%) (physical); from 3 to 40% (sexual); and from 5 to 91% (emotional/ psychological). Methods and operational definitions of violence varied widely, especially for emotional/psychological IPV, limiting comparability. Conclusions IPV against women in Arab countries represents a public health and human rights problem, with substantial levels of physical, sexual and emotional/psychological IPV documented in many settings. The evidence base is fragmented, however, suggesting a need for more comparable, high quality research on IPV in the region and greater adherence to international scientific and ethical guidelines. There is a particular need for national, population-based data to inform prevention and responses to violence against women, and to help Arab countries monitor progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Sexual and gender minorities rights in Latin America and the Caribbean: a multi-country evaluation

    Monica Malta; Reynaldo Cardoso; Luiz Montenegro; Jaqueline Gomes de Jesus; Michele Seixas; Bruna Benevides; Maria das Dores Silva; Sara LeGrand; Kathryn Whetten (BMC, 2019-11-01)
    Abstract Background Although the extent of legal inequities experienced by sexual and gender minorities (SGM) has declined during recent decades, this population still enjoys fewer legal protections and benefits than the non-gender-variant, heterosexual population. Herein we analyze the current scenario of SGM rights in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). Methods Policy documents and governmental strategies addressing SGM rights were analyzed within a timeline framework by three major LAC sub-regions: the Caribbean, Mesoamerica and South America. Results Our search identified 88 eligible documents addressing the following categories: (1) legal protections towards same-sex couples (decriminalization of same-sex acts among consenting adults, legal recognition of same-sex unions, same-sex marriage, adoption by same-sex couples), and (2) anti-discrimination laws (SGM allowed to serve openly in the military and anti-discrimination laws related to sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression). The majority of Caribbean countries prohibit same-sex acts between consenting adults, while in Mesoamerica same-sex couples do not have equal marriage rights and are not allowed to adopt as a couple. In the Caribbean and Mesoamerica transgender people lack proper legal protection. Legislation to protect SGM rights in South America is the most inclusive and progressive in LAC. Several countries recognize same-sex marriage and the right of transgender people to legally change their name and gender. The majority of South American countries have some kind of anti-discrimination law, but no effective mechanisms to enforce these laws. In spite of those progresses, the LAC region registers the highest rate of violence and hate crimes against SGM in the world. Conclusion In the Caribbean and Mesoamerica the overall discriminatory legislation exacerbates violence against SGM within a social and cultural context of strong sexist, gender stereotypes and widespread violence. This scenario is driving hundreds of SGM to leave their home countries. In spite of progressive legislations, several South American countries are currently controlled either by highly conservative leaders (e.g. Brazil and Chile) or by repressive dictators (Venezuela). The near future of the LAC region is unknown, but if such trends continue, severe human rights problems, including setbacks in SGM legal protections, are likely.
  • Rethinking obstetric violence and the “neglect of neglect”: the silence of a labour ward milieu in a South African district hospital

    Maura Lappeman; Leslie Swartz (BMC, 2019-10-01)
    Abstract Background Research into the mistreatment of women during childbirth has increased over recent years. Overt violence is an important focus of research, but recently there has been increasing recognition that there are other ways in which women in labour may be uncared for or even hurt. As part of a larger study focussing on staff responses to stillbirths, we wanted to gain contextual information on how high risk pregnancies are handled in general in Khayelitsha Hospital, a district hospital in an impoverished urban setting in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. This health care system experiences an immense patient load, the poverty of the community it serves, and the numerous traumas affecting both patients and staff. Methods In order to obtain rich exploratory data, a qualitative research methodology was used. The primary data source was observations in the labour ward, interviewing labour ward staff (doctors, nurse, and cleaners). The secondary data source was the analysis of hospital documents, specifically those related to labour ward policy. Results From our numerous observations and discussions, it is clear that no one is being overtly mistreated in this hospital and patients are medically well attended to. Although we saw no physical abuse, we noted the silence in the ward. Beside medical related interactions, we also noted that there were limited interactions between the women and the health care providers. Conclusions Silence can be a form of neglect as it leaves the women feeling uncared for and not seen. In an overburdened health care system where both staff and patients are often overwhelmed or traumatised, silence can be a way in which a system defends itself against what it knows it cannot provide.

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