• Provision of emergency obstetric care at secondary level in a conflict setting in a rural area of Afghanistan - is the hospital fulfilling its role?

      Lagrou, D; Zachariah, R; Bissell, K; Van Overloop, C; Nasim, M; Wagma, HN; Kakar, S; Caluwaerts, S; De Plecker, E; Fricke, R; Van den Bergh, R (BioMed Central, 2018-01-22)
      Provision of Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care (EmONC) reduces maternal mortality and should include three components: Basic Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care (BEmONC) offered at primary care level, Comprehensive EmONC (CEmONC) at secondary level and a good referral system in-between. In a conflict-affected province of Afghanistan (Khost), we assessed the performance of an Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) run CEmONC hospital without a primary care and referral system. Performance was assessed in terms of hospital utilisation for obstetric emergencies and quality of obstetric care.
    • Reproductive health in humanitarian settings in Lebanon and Iraq: results from four cross-sectional studies, 2014-2015.

      Balinska, MA; Nesbitt, R; Ghantous, Z; Ciglenecki, I; Staderini, N (BMC, 2019-06-10)
      BACKGROUND: Reproductive health is an important component of humanitarian response. Displaced women need access to family planning, antenatal care, and the presence of a skilled birth attendant at delivery. Since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011, Lebanon and Iraq have been hosting large numbers of refugees, thereby straining local capacities to provide these services. In order to identify salient health needs, Médecins Sans Frontières conducted a survey in several sites hosting refugees and internally displaced persons across the region. Here we describe the reproductive health profile of Syrian refugees, Iraqi displaced persons, and vulnerable Lebanese and their use of services. METHODS: We conducted four cross-sectional surveys in 2014-2015 in two sites in Lebanon and two sites in Iraq. Depending on the site, two-stage cluster sampling or systematic sampling was intended, but non-probability methods were employed at the second stage due to implementation challenges. We collected information on overall health (including reproductive health) and demographic information from heads of households on the basis of a standardized questionnaire. Pearson chi-square tests were used to compare proportions, and generalized linear models were used to calculate odds ratios with regard to risk factors. All analyses were performed using the survey suite of commands in Stata version 14.1. RESULTS: A total of 23,604 individuals were surveyed, including 5925 women of childbearing age. Overall, it was reported that 7.5% of women were currently pregnant and 12.8% had given birth within the previous 12 months. It was reported that pregnancy was unplanned for 57% of currently pregnant women and 66.7% of women who had delivered in the previous year. A slight majority of women from both groups had accessed antenatal care at least once. Amongst women who had delivered in the previous year, 84.5% had done so with a skilled birth attendant and 22.1% had had a cesarean section. Location and head of household education were predictors of unplanned pregnancy in multivariable analysis. Head of household education was also significantly associated with higher uptake of antenatal care. CONCLUSIONS: Considering the large number of pregnant women and women having recently delivered in these settings, addressing their sexual and reproductive health needs emerges as a crucial aspect of humanitarian response. This study identified unmet needs for family planning and high cesarean section rates at all sites, suggesting both lack of access to certain services (contraception, antenatal care), but also over-recourse to cesarean section. These specific challenges can impact directly on maternal and child health and need today to be kept high on the humanitarian agenda.
    • Why Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Provides Safe Abortion Care and What That Involves

      Schulte-Hillen, C; Staderini, N; Saint-Sauveur, JF (BioMed Central, 2016-09-21)
      MSF responds to needs for the termination of pregnancy, including on request (TPR); it is part of the organization's work aimed at reducing maternal mortality and suffering; and preventing unsafe abortions in the countries where we work. Following the publication of "Why don't humanitarian organizations provide safe abortion care?" we offer an insight into MSF's experience over the past few years. The article looks at the legal concerns and proposes that the importance of addressing maternal mortality should replace them and the operational set-up and action organized in a way that mitigates risks. MSF took a policy decision on safe abortion care in 2004; the fact that care did not expand rapidly to relevant MSF projects came as a surprise, reflecting the important weight social norms around abortion have everywhere. The need to engage in an open dialogue with staff, relevant medical actors and at community level became more obvious. Finally the article looks some key lessons that have emerged for the organization as part of the effort to prevent ill health, maternal death and suffering caused by unwanted pregnancy and unsafe abortion.
    • Wishful thinking versus operational commitment: is the international guidance on priority sexual and reproductive health interventions in humanitarian settings becoming unrealistic?

      Tran, NT; Schulte-Hillen, C (BioMed Central, 2018-05-29)
      Twenty-one years ago, a global consortium of like-minded institutions designed the landmark Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP) for sexual and reproductive health (SRH) to guide national and international humanitarian first responders in preventing morbidity and mortality at the onset of chaos, destruction, and high insecurity caused by disasters or conflicts. Since then, the MISP has undergone limited change and has become an international reference in humanitarian response. This article discusses our perspectives regarding the 2018 changes to the MISP that have created division among humanitarian field practitioners, academics, advocates, and development agencies. With more than 50 pages, the new MISP chapter dilutes key guidance and messages on the most life-saving activities, leaving actors with excessive room for interpretation as to which priority activities need to be first implemented. Consequently, non-life-saving interventions may take precedence over essential ones. Insecurity, scarce human and financial resources, logistics constrains, and other limitations imposed by field reality at the onset of a crisis must be considered. We strongly recommend that an institution with the mandate, legitimacy, and technical expertise in the review of guidelines reexamines the 2018 edition of the MISP. We urge experienced first-line responders, national actors, and relevant agencies to join efforts to ensure that the MISP remains focused on a very limited set of essential activities and supplies that are pragmatic, field-oriented, and, most importantly, immediately life-saving for people in need.