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URC Awards $1.2 Million for Research on Disrespectful and Abusive Care of Women during Childbirth through USAID-funded TRAction Project
Mother's Day offers an opportunity to celebrate our mothers, who perform the unique role of bringing new life into the world. Unfortunately, in developed and developing countries alike, some women experience disrespectful and abusive care during childbirth, a time of intense vulnerability.
University Research Co., LLC (URC) has awarded two research organizations $1.2 million for research on disrespectful and abusive care during childbirth through the Translating Research into Action (TRAction) project, funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
The Population Council and the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health's Averting Maternal Death and Disability (AMDD) Program each received two-year $600,000 grants to conduct separate research studies of disrespect and abuse of women during childbirth at health facilities.
"Investing in women—including providing quality and dignified pregnancy-related care—is essential to the prosperity and opportunity of all people," said USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah.
Examples of disrespect and abuse include: humiliation, care that does not respect women's privacy and dignity, procedures performed without consent, discrimination based on certain attributes, abandonment or denial of care, and physical and verbal abuse during childbirth.
In countries with high maternal and infant mortality, disrespectful and abusive care can discourage women from delivering their infants in facilities with skilled birth attendants. This research aims to better understand and document the extent of the problem and ways to reduce the abuse. Disrespectful and abusive care is both a human rights issue and an important quality of health care problem. Ultimately, the initiative aims to increase use of skilled care to ensure safe deliveries and to reduce maternal mortality, a United Nations Millennium Development Goal.
The Population Council will conduct research in two districts in Kenya and AMDD will carry out research in two districts in the Tanga Region of Tanzania. Both organizations will collaborate closely with local communities and health systems stakeholders.
The U.S. Government's Global Health Initiative seeks to remove barriers that prevent women from accessing lifesaving health services such as assisted delivery with skilled birth attendants. When women are able to access needed quality health services and protect themselves from the many health risks they face, long-term social and economic progress can be achieved.
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 of women during facility-based childbirth, contributors to the problem, and approaches to tackle this issue.
An interview in the report quotes a woman who said, "I think most of our women don't know they have the right to respectful treatment….They accept what they get."
TRAction and its awardees will also collaborate with the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood (WRA). The WRA is also receiving support from USAID to develop strategies and campaigns targeting this issue and will form a global Leadership Action Committee to Promote Respectful Care at Birth.
URC, which celebrated its 45th anniversary last year, is a global company dedicated to improving the quality of health care, social services, and health education worldwide. With our non-profit affiliate, the Center for Human Services (CHS), URC manages projects in over 30 countries including the United States. Based in Bethesda, Maryland, URC has about 700 employees around the world.