Newsletter April 2011

ICRH Belgium Newsletter

 8th of April?, 2011




ICRH coordinator of two new European funded research projects
ICRH will coordinate DIFFER (Diagonal Interventions to Fast Forward Enhanced Reproductive health) and INPAC (INtegrating Post-Abortion family planning services into existing abortion services in hospital settings in China), two projects within the EC’s 7th Framework Program.

Improving women’s sexual and reproductive health (SRH) requires innovative strategies to maximize potential synergies between components of care. Most adverse reproductive health outcomes stem from unintended pregnancy, and acquisition and transmission of reproductive tract infections. Although proven solutions exist, their implementation has been fragmented, with limited population impact, and little access for populations most at risk, such as sex workers. Integration of SRH services is key to achieving universal access to reproductive health. However, with weakened health systems and an HIV pandemic, the way forward is uncertain. The essential package of services and models for delivering them at high coverage in resource-limited settings are unclear. To address this, we will implement a ‘diagonal’ strategy, incorporating both ‘horizontal’ health systems strengthening and more targeted ‘vertical’ approaches. Horizontal programs can reach large numbers of women, while vertical programs target high-risk populations, difficult to reach through a horizontal approach. The aim is improved SRH services through identifying best practices in delivering a combined package of interventions for general population women and female sex workers. The research will occur in Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, and Mysore, India by a consortium of 3 African, 1 Indian and 2 European partners. Detailed situation and policy analyses will be conducted in each country, with key stakeholder and community participation, and will inform the design of context-specific interventions to be implemented as feasible and acceptable packages of interventions. We will apply health systems research methodology to evaluate effectiveness and sustainability, and to identify the determinants of successful, sustainable and replicable interventions. This project will help to define packages of SRH services and models for delivery that meet the needs of all women and impact positively on their health.
The project will be starting in October 2011 and run for 5 years. The budget is nearly 3 million euro.
More information:

ICRH will coordinate this project, working together with 4 Chinese partners and 2 European partners. The project will be starting in February 2012 and run for 4 years. The budget is nearly 3 million euro.
More information:

New project for ICRH Mozambique: Maternal and Child Health and Nutrition
ICRH Mozambique starts a new project ‘Support for Integrated Maternal and Child Health and Nutrition Services in Tete Province, Mozambique’, in collaboration with the provincial health authorities.
The project started on February 1st 2011, and is financed by UNICEF in Mozambique. It aims to improve the provision of quality integrated maternal and child health and nutrition services in the public health system of Tete Province, in north-western Mozambique: It focuses in particular upon the improvement of the technical quality of the services, through capacity building of the public health officials responsible for the program, and improved supervision and monitoring and evaluation. The project also hopes to achieve an improvement of access to and utilization of these services, through collaboration with existing patient support groups of HIV positive people.
More information: Diederike Geelhoed,

Dream Fund of Dutch Postcode Lottery funds unique aids project
During the last decade, the fight against aids has seen great results. However, for every new person to begin hiv treatment, two more people get infected. Experts predict that the number of people in need of hiv treatment will be so large in 2050 that the current approach will be unaffordable.
They expect that by then 11 million people will die of aids yearly, instead of the 1,8 million people in 2009. STOP AIDS NOW! and CHAI want to prove that using hiv-medication as a method of prevention can cause a turn around in the epidemic.
Van Deth: “With 8.8 million Euros the Dutch Postcode Lottery enables us to do what no one else dares to do. This project has an enormous potential to be multiplied worldwide. This means a realistic possibility of an end to the aids epidemic”
Scientific models are already predicting: treating people with hiv medication can at the same time prevent new infections. When people take hiv medication, the viral load in their blood is reduced and the chance of spreading the virus is 90% less. Yet this method of treatment has never been applied.
 STOP AIDS NOW! and CHAI therefore start in Swaziland with treatment 2.0. Together with The Global Network of People Living with hiv, SACEMA at Stellenbosch University, University of Amsterdam, the Ministry of Health of Swaziland and local partners like SafAIDS, STOP AIDS NOW! and CHAI want to introduce this treatment centered prevention, through:
* mobilizing the entire population to be tested for hiv. At this moment only 16% of the people has been tested;
*start hiv treatment sooner. To date people only start treatment five to ten years after infection.
At the end of 2014 90% of the people in need of treatment should be getting it. It is expected that this will result in a reduction of new infections of 50%. 
ICRH's Dr Wim Delva, together with colleagues from SACEMA, will be supervising the statistical and mathematical modeling component of the project. Specifically, time trends in the coverage, retention, adherence, viral load and sexual risk behaviour among HIV infected people in Swaziland will be monitored, and mathematical models will be constructed to estimate the impact of the project on the spread of HIV in Swaziland.
More information:

In February, the CERCA team of ICRH visited the Bolivian consortium partner, South Group, in Cochabamba. A second Community Advisory Board (CAB) took place at ICRH offices in Ghent on the 30th of March.
CERCA (Community-Embedded Reproductive Health Care for Adolescents in Latin America) is an FP7 funded project that develops and tests innovative strategies targeted at adolescents in Ecuador, Bolivia and Nicaragua. ICRH is coordinator. The CERCA team of ICRH realized a coordination visit to Bolivian consortium partner. ICRH Ghent attended workshops with local health providers, parents and adolescents.
On the 30th of March individuals and organizations working in the field of Latin America and/or sexual and reproductive health (care) for adolescents participated at a second Community Advisory Board meeting. The following organizations were represented: Sensoa, Plan Belgium, the Department of Public health and the Department of Family Medicine of the university of Ghent. The aim of the meeting was to strengthen the existing network in which experiences related to SRH and adolescents (in Latin America) can be exchanged and future co operations can be elaborated. The meeting of March 30th resulted in a clear description of the intervention goals and in practical suggestions for action to be implemented in communities and primary health care centers.
More information: and


MOMI Kick-Off Meeting
From Monday 14 until Wednesday 16 February 2010 the MOMI kick-off meeting took place at Ghent. During this meeting the main researchers involved in the MOMI project discussed the work plan for the first project year.
MOMI is the acronym of a research project funded by the European Commission (FP7 project) with as full name; ‘Missed Opportunities in Maternal and Infant Health: reducing maternal and newborn mortality and morbidity in the year after childbirth through combined facility- and community-based interventions’
The ‘Missed Opportunities in Maternal and Infant Health’ research proposal is based on the hypothesis that there are significant missed opportunities for improving maternal and child health which could be prevented and that an improved configuration of, and emphasis on, postpartum services will reduce maternal and newborn morbidity and mortality.This leads us to the main objective of this research project; ‘To improve maternal and newborn health through a focus on the postpartum period, adopting context-specific strategies to strengthen health care delivery and services at both facility and community level’.
ICRH Belgium is the overall research coordinator of the MOMI project. For the project we work together with partners in 4 sub-Saharan African and in 2 European countries being: the Medical Faculty of the University of Porto, Portugal; University College of London, United Kingdom; Institut de Recherche en Sciences de la Santé, Burkina Faso; ICRH – Kenya;  Parent and Child Initiative of the Kamuzu Central Hospital and Ministry of Health, Malawi; ICRH - Mozambique and the Eduardo Mondlane University, Mozambique.
The research will be implemented in the 4 sub-Saharan African partner countries. It will run for 5 years (1 February 2010 till 31 January 2015) and has a budget of 2.997.648 EUR.
The kick-off meeting was the first opportunity for the involved researchers to discuss intensively the MOMI project during 3 days. The meeting had a successful outcome including a clear work plan for the first project year and several agreements on issues concerning the financial, administrative and technical management of the project.

The MOMI Project:

More information:

The Africa Platform at Ghent University
Ghent University has recently granted the Africa Platform structural and administrative support. In this way, the university shows its commitment to academic and scientific collaboration with the African continent.
The Africa Platform offers a forum whose main goal it is to make the Africa-expertise of the University of Ghent more public and more approachable for outsiders. In addition, the members can intensify mutual contacts, get to know and discuss their collective, interdisciplinary interests and possibly turn this into joint research, publications and/or the implementation of these within the scope of development aid.
ICRH participates actively in the Africa Platform, together with other UGhent actors such as researchers, students, departments, journals and research groups.
The Africa Platform organizes an annual international conference that offers a forum for young researchers who are working on Africa-related topics. Each time, an African guest institution is invited. Themes of previous conferences were ‘Heritage’, ‘Mobility’, ‘Gender’ and ‘Scientific interaction between Africa and Europe’. 
The Africa Platform also publishes Africa Focus, a multidisciplinary journal with international peer-review. The journal already exists for more than 20 years and it was one of the first open access journals at Ghent University.
In addition to these activities, the Africa Platform also organizes series of lectures, it distributes a digital newsletter and it aims to play a coordinating role in the search for research and field work locations in Africa.
More information:

Summer school Health&Migration
‘Migration and health’ are two wide-ranging concepts and are intertwined in many ways. This summer school, organized by UGhent medical students will look at all sorts of things and people that can move in and out countries and affect health.
This encompasses the migration of people, either forced or by choice, with topics as health in refugee camps, legal status of displaced people, import pathology, migration and mental health, the brain drain, medical tourism etc. Besides people, micro-organisms can cross borders, giving rise to pandemics or being used in biological warfare. All these topics pose serious challenges to human health. There will be further discussions on the movement of organs, pharmaceuticals and other consumer goods on the global trading market that affect health.
Through lectures and interactive workshops, the summerschool will look at possible solutions on how to deal with the problems posed by migration. In addition, it will address the underlying social, economical, cultural, structural and environmental determinants of migration and health. Specifically war and conflict will be discussed, as well as the challenges posed by climate change. In discussing the determinants of migration, special attention will be given to the health of vulnerable groups such as women and children. Deadline for application: April 11th
More information:

ICRH Belgium lectures
The first three lectures on ‘Reproductive health in global perspective’ were very successful, both in terms of participants and content.  We are looking forward to meeting you at the two remaining ones.
The lectures are aimed at a broad target audience of students, researchers, people from NGOs and policy makers. The two remaining activities are:
May 2nd - Ethical dilemma’s in the attitude of health workers towards harmful cultural practices: lecture by Dr. Els Leye (ICRH) followed by a debate with  Prof. Dr. Marleen Temmerman (ICRH/Department of Gynecology, Ghent University), Prof. dr. Guido Pennings (Moral sciences, Ghent University), Prof. dr. Stan Monstrey (Plastic surgery – Ghent University Hospital) and Dr. Menekse Goker (Gynecology department, Ghent University Hospital).
May 11th - The effectiveness of HIV prevention: lectures by Kristien Michielsen (ICRH), Anneleen Santens (Remedial educationalist), Prof. dr. Koen Stroeken (Medical anthropologist Ghent University).
All lectures take place in Ghent and are held in Dutch.
A detailed program and all practical information can be downloaded at
More information:

‘Vrienden van Patricia Claeys’ (Friends of Patricia Claeys) launches new web site
“A stone has been moved in a river” are the words of a singer-poet. Patricia moved more than one stone in more than one river. She wrested rocks all over the world, but especially in her second homeland, Nicaragua.
With her characteristic determination, knowledge, sense of humour and sense of perspective, she tore down rock after rock on her way towards her ideal, a quiet, meandering river where it’s good living for everybody. Thus we will remember Patricia as a powerful, straightforward woman, fighting against injustice and fighting for the right to health for everybody en for life. Patricia’s dedication and inspiration  keep on living in the numerous projects that she initiated. The non-profit organization “Friends of Patricia Claeys” wants to cherish that inspiration by permanently supporting the initiatives in Nicaragua that were the closest to Patricia’s hearth.
The projects of the  Fundación Patricia Claeys are situated in San Juan del Sur, a small town in southwestern Nicaragua with about 15,000 inhabitants. In the past few years San Juan del Sur became a popular tourist destination. Still the town has preserved its character of a small fishermen’s place. The population is seriously impoverished, and the contrast with the luxury holiday residences of rich Americans and Europeans, is extremely high.
Patricia Claeys lived and worked for nine years in San Juan del Sur and she is the foundress, together with Rosa Elena Bello and Margaret Morganroth Gulette, of projects that support vulnerable people, especially women, in their pursuit of a more dignified life and society. Even after she returned to Belgium, Patricia continued to monitor the projects. Since she passed away, Rosa Elena Bello, Patricia’s close friend in Nicaragua, became the local driving spirit behind the projects.
More information: please visit the renewed website:

ICRH Mozambique moves to new offices
The Mozambican ICRH family member has found new housing.
ICRH Mozambique was launched in 2010 as an independent research NGO based in Maputo. This youngest ICRH Global affiliate is growing fast, with quite some new projects and bright perspectives. As a consequence, moving to new office space became unavoidable, and they succeeded in finding very convenient new housing in the centre of Maputo. The new address is Rua Jose Macamo 269, 1st floor, Maputo, phone/fax  +258 21493425. The general e-mail address remains unchanged:
More information: Laurence Hendrickx,



The Standards for Sexuality Education in Europe are available online.
ICRH was involved in the development of the “standards for sexuality education in Europe, a framework for policy makers, educational and health authorities and specialists.”
This document is intended to contribute to the introduction of holistic sexuality education. The initiative for the elaboration of the standard was launched by the WHO regional office for Europe and developed by the Federal Centre for Health Education (BZgA) in close cooperation with a group of 19 experts belonging to different organization, amongst other ICRH. The pdf version can be downloaded on the website
More information: and

A Systematic Review of African Studies on Intimate Partner Violence against Pregnant Women
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is very high in Africa. It is one of the highest reported globally. However, information obtained from the increasing number of African studies on IPV among pregnant women has not been scientifically analyzed. This paper presents a systematic review summing up the evidence from African studies on IPV prevalence and risk factors among pregnant women.
The prevalence of IPV during pregnancy ranges from 2% to 57% in 13 studies.  After adjustment for known confounders, five studies retained significant associations between HIV and IPV during pregnancy. Five studies demonstrated strong evidence that a history of violence is significantly associated with IPV in pregnancy and alcohol abuse by a partner also increases a woman's chances of being abused during pregnancy. Other risk factors include risky sexual behaviour, low socioeconomic status and young age.
This evidence points to the importance of further research to both better understand IPV during pregnancy and feed into interventions in reproductive health services to prevent and minimize the impact of such violence.
More information:
Shamu S, Abrahams N, Temmerman M, Musekiwa A, Zarowsky C (2011) A Systematic Review of African Studies on Intimate Partner Violence against Pregnant Women: Prevalence and Risk Factors. PLoS ONE 6(3): e17591. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0017591

Intravaginal Practices, Bacterial Vaginosis, and HIV Infection in Women: Individual Participant Data Metaanalysis
This study aims to investigate the relationship between intravaginal practices and the acquisition of HIV or disrupted vaginal flora.
Identifying modifiable factors that increase women’s vulnerability to HIV is a critical step in developing effective female-initiated prevention interventions. The primary objective of this study was to investigate the association between intravaginal practices and acquisition of HIV infection among women in sub-Saharan Africa. Secondary objectives were to investigate associations between intravaginal practices and disrupted vaginal flora; and between disrupted vaginal flora and HIV acquisition.
The conclusion is that this study provides evidence to suggest that some intravaginal practices increase the risk of HIV acquisition but a direct causal pathway linking intravaginal cleaning with soap, disruption of vaginal flora, and HIV acquisition has not yet been demonstrated. More consistency in the definition and measurement of specific intravaginal practices is warranted so that the effects of specific intravaginal practices and products can be further elucidated.
More information:
Low N, Chersich MF, Schmidlin K, Egger M, Francis SC, et al. (2011) Intravaginal Practices, Bacterial Vaginosis, and HIV Infection in Women: Individual Participant Data Meta-analysis. PLoS Med 8(2): e1000416. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000416

Blood Stains - A Child of Africa Reclaims Her Human Rights
This book by Khady Koita was originally published in French ("Mutilée"), and has now been translated to English.
Khady is co-founder and former president of the European Network for the Prevention of Female Genital Mutilation. This best-selling memoir has been translated into 17 languages, and portrays a true survivor who faced female genital mutilation, polygamy, domestic violence, and child marriage to become an activist in the Diaspora. Khady is currently president of La Palabre, an association that works for the advancement of human rights of young people and women in Senegal. A first shelter for girls and women fleeing female genital mutilation, forced marriage, domestic violence, is now being constructed in Thiès, Senegal. 
A review of the book can be found at
More information and ordering:
Blood Stains. A Child of Africa Reclaims Her Human Rights. Khady with Marie-Thérèse Cuny.
Trans. Tobe Levin. ISBN: 978-3-9813863-0-1. OCTOBER 2010. Price: $29.90 pb; 24.90€