USAID TRAction Project's Research on Disrespect and Abuse during Childbirth Featured at the Wilson Center

A URC staff member and partners affiliated with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Translating Research into Action Project (TRAction) presented research findings at a panel event at the Wilson Center on Thursday, May 2nd at 12 pm. Co-hosted by the Maternal Health Task Force and United Nations Population Fund, the event featured four panelists — all affiliated with TRAction's work addressing disrespect and abuse during childbirth.

Dr. Kathleen Hill, Senior Technical Advisor for TRAction at URC presented the results of a landmark report by URC and the Harvard School of Public Health that documented extensive qualitative evidence for widespread disrespect and abuse in institutional childbirth services in over 30 high-, middle-, and low-income countries. Published in 2010, the report helped garner attention on the many complex issues related to respectful maternal care, long recognized as a high priority by maternal health activists, public health professionals, human rights activists, and frontline providers.

The lead investigators from two TRAction-supported research grants examining this problem, Ms. Lynn Freedman, Director of the Averting Maternal Death and Disability Program (AMDD) at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, and Ms. Charlotte Warren, Maternal and Newborn Health/Reproductive Health Associate at the Population Council, presented preliminary findings from their research in Kenya (Population Council) and Tanzania (AMDD). The TRAction-supported implementation research aims to measure manifestations of and potential drivers of disrespect and abuse in facility childbirth services and to develop and test interventions that may help reduce disrespect and promote dignified childbirth care.

Addressing Disrespect and Abuse during Childbirth
Evidence from many countries suggests that non-respectful care deters women from giving birth in maternities and accessing life-saving care in the event of maternal and newborn complications. Examples of disrespect and abuse in facility-based childbirth reported in the gray and published literature include subtle and overt humiliation of women, discrimination against certain sub-groups of women, abandonment of care, physical and verbal abuse during childbirth, and detention in maternities due to failure to pay. Although qualitative evidence suggests that this problem is widespread, evidence about the primary manifestations, prevalence, key drivers of, and solutions for this problem remains limited. TRAction-supported research in multiple countries is exploring how to measure and generate evidence in this area to inform policy and interventions to decrease the prevalence of disrespect and abuse during childbirth.

Closing the "Know-do" Gap
Funded by the USAID, TRAction supports studies to develop, test, and compare approaches that more effectively deliver, increase, and scale-up evidence-based practices for priority health care challenges such as disrespect and abuse in childbirth services. Through implementation research, the TRAction Project addresses "know-do" gaps, or delays between the discovery of effective ways to improve public health and their application on a wide scale.

July 2013 update: Wilson Center published story about panel.

May 03, 2013
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