URC's TRAction project publishes report on abusive treatment of women during childbirth

Translating Research into Action (TRAction), a project managed by University Research Co., LLC (URC), with funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), published a report on a disturbing topic: disrespect and abusive treatment of women during childbirth, a time of intense vulnerability.

Exploring Evidence and Action for Respectful Care at Birth, written by URC's Dr. Kathleen Hill and Diana Bowser of the Harvard School of Public Health, presents evidence on disrespect and abuse in facility-based childbirth, contributors to the problem, and approaches to tackle this issue.

According to the report, lack of respectful and non-abusive care at birth may encompass many points along a continuum that spans dignified, patient centered care, non-dignified care, and overtly abusive maternal care. Examples of disrespect and abuse include subtle humiliation of women, discrimination against certain sub-groups of women, overt humiliation, abandonment of care, and physical and verbal abuse during childbirth.

"Most of the women don't know they have the right to respectful treatment….They don't object or speak out.  They accept what they get."

-- Interviewee, TRAction project

While policymakers and program managers focus on overcoming financial and geographic barriers to safe childbirth care, little attention has been paid to documenting and tackling the disrespect and abuse of women in health facilities. The report helps to fill this gap. The report also describes several categories of promising interventions concerned with the promotion of respectful, non-abusive care for both childbirth and other health care areas.

The TRAction Project is a health research grants project focuses on maternal, newborn, and child health and other related services. The project is directed by URC in collaboration with partner Harvard School of Public Health. For more information about the TRAction Project, please visit http://www.tractionproject.org/.

March 11, 2011
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