Newsletter June 2011

ICRH Belgium Newsletter

 22nd of June?, 2011



Marleen Temmerman receives an honorary PhD
ICRH Founder and Director Marleen Temmerman was awarded an honorary PhD by the Brussels Free University.The VUB (Vrije Universiteit Brussel - Free University Brussels) handed out honorary doctorates to five inspiring personalities who each excel in their own domain, in recognition of their achievements in the academic, scientific or social field. Prof. Marleen Temmerman, who is besides ICRH director also head of  the Gynaecology-Obstetrics Department at the Ghent University Hospital and Senator in the Belgian Parliament, was praised not only for her impressive academic achievements, but also for of her social commitment and her political career.
More information:



3rd Annual “HIV in Context” Research Symposium
On March 28th and 29th 2011, the 3rd “HIV in Context” Research Symposium was organized at the School of Public Health of the University of Western Cape (UWC) in Capetown, South Africa.
The annual Symposium is part of an inter-university cooperation between the University of Western Cape and Ghent University, launched in 2004 as a 10 year Flemish Inter-University Council (VLIR-UOS) program on Dynamics of Building a Better Society.
This year’s symposium examined the intersections of Gender, Violence, and HIV. How do gender (in)equality and identity link with violence and HIV infection? How does HIV research relate to research on violence and gender? Researchers, policy makers, activists and practitioners were invited to share emerging and ongoing research that makes a difference.
As member of the Steering Committee, Prof. Temmerman chaired a session on ‘Primary Health Care and Gender, Violence and HIV: Focus on reproductive health in Africa’. Delegations from ICRH Ghent, ICRH Kenya and ICRH Mozambique participated, acting as keynote speaker, or presenting papers or posters. The Symposium was followed by a two-day writing workshop offering opportunities to write for publication, strengthen research and communications skills, and develop new ideas and collaborations.
More information:

Dr Denis Mukwege visits ICRH Belgium
Lecture by Dr. Denis Mukwege, winner of the King Baouduin International Development Prize.
Denis Mukwege studied medicine in Burundi and gynaecology in France. In 1989 he established a department of gynaecology and obstetrics in the hospital of Lemera. When this was destroyed during the first Congolese civil war, he left Lemera and settled in Bukavu (South Kivu) where he built a maternity department and an operating theatre. Early on he recognized the need for care for the increasing number of victims of sexual violence. In addition to medical care, he also provides psychological support and sets up services that can help the victims to regain  their economic independence. With the civil war, the occurrence of rape and fistula boom. Thanks to the activities of dr. Mukwege, the Panzi hospital could help tens of thousands of women who were victim of sexual and gender based violence. A considerable number of them were fistula repair cases.
The King Baudouin Foundation has granted the King Baudouin International Development Prize 2010-2011 to dr. Denis Mukwege (DRC) “for restoring dignity to thousands of women survivors of sexual violence by providing medical care and social support; for his dedication and contribution to building an integrated health care system in Eastern Congo; and for his profound commitment to his native country by tirelessly advocating a return to peace in a region where terror and fear destroy the very fabric of society”. On the occasion of Dr. Mukwege’s visit to Belgium for the award ceremony, ICRH invited him to give a lecture in Ghent. In this lecture, Dr. Mukwege drew a probing picture of the nature, backgrounds and extend of sexual violence in Eastern Congo, and called on the international community to take action to stop the atrocities that take place in many conflict areas.
After the lecture, ICRH had a meeting with Dr. Mukwege to explore cooperation opportunities.
More information:

Training course on Coordination of Multi-Sectoral Response to Gender-Based Violence in Humanitarian Settings
The fifth edition of this annual training course will be held in Ghent, Belgium, from 7-18 November 2011.
This two-week residential course, organised by UNFPA and ICRH,  is specifically designed to train qualified gender-based violence (GBV) professionals from various backgrounds in the coordination of multi-sectoral prevention of and response to GBV in humanitarian settings. All participants will be expected to pay a registration fee in addition to their travel and related expenses.  The deadline for applications is 15 July 2011.  The full training announcement, including the criteria for participants and the application form can be downloaded at
More information:

Conference on ‘Post-Abortion Contraception’ in Beijing
On May 28th 2011, ICRH and the Society of Family Planning, Chinese Medical Association, organized the second China Obstetrics & Gynecology Hospital President Forum on ‘Post-Abortion Contraception’ (PAC) in Beijing.
Dr. Wei-Hong Zhang from ICRH presented the new FP7 project, INPAC (Integrating Post-Abortion Family Planning service into China’s existing abortion services in hospital settings).  The aim of the conference was to share experiences between participants and prepare the launch of the INPAC project at national level in China at the beginning of 2012.
More information:

MoU signed between Ghent University and Hebei Medical University (China)
On the occasion of an official delegation of the province of East Flanders to the Chinese Hebei province, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Ghent University and Hebei Medical University.
From 23 to 25 May 2010, an official delegation of Eastern Flanders has visited Hebei province, China. Several successful meetings on future cooperation were held with the members of Hebei Province Department of Education and with representatives of key provincial universities: Hebei University of Science and Technology, Hebei University of Technology, Hebei Normal University and Yanshan University.  A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Ghent University and Hebei Medical University was signed during a ceremony on the 24th of May, in the presence of Mr. Mark De Buck, Vice Governor of Eastern Flanders, Dr. Wei-Hong Zhang from ICRH (coordinator of this MoU) and Mr. Hedwig De Pauw, Director of the International Department of  Province of East Flanders.
More information:


CERCA consortium meeting in Lithuania
From April 26th until May 1st, the CERCA project (Community-Embedded Reproductive health Care for Adolescents in Latin America) had a meeting in Vilnius, Lithuania.
ICRH coordinates an interventional research project (CERCA) that investigates how public health services in Latin America can be more responsive to teenagers’ sexual and reproductive health needs. The partners involved are South Group (Bolivia), the University of Cuenca (Ecuador), the Amsterdam School for Social Sciences (Netherlands), the University of Kaunas (Lithuania), Centro de investigaciones y studios de salud (Nicaragua) and the Instituto Centro Americano de la Salud (Nicaragua).
At the end of the first project year, the consortium held a meeting in Lithuania to discuss the preliminary results of the situation analysis. The first CERCA deliverable with the results of the situation analysis will be published in October 2011. Furthermore the group made decisions on the questionnaire and methodology for the quantitative surveys that shortly will be carried out among adolescents in Nicaragua, Bolivia and Ecuador. Finally an initial plan has been developed for the interventions in communities and health centres in the three countries. The host partner, the university of Kaunas, made great efforts for organizing this successful and pleasant encounter.
More information: and
Websites: and,

QUALMAT: Annual Consortium Meeting and Data Analysis Workshop
From the 7th until the 9th of May 2011 the QUALMAT research team met in Tanzania for its annual meeting and for a one-day data analysis workshop organized by the ICRH QUALMAT team.
QUALMAT wants to improve the quality of maternal and newborn care through addressing the existing gap between ‘knowing what to do’ and ‘doing what you know’ by implementing performance based incentives for health workers and a computer-assisted clinical decision support system which will help providers to comply with established standards of care. The project is implemented in Burkina Faso, Ghana and Tanzania. ICRH is responsible for measuring the quality of maternal and newborn care at the research sites and assessing changes in the quality of care caused by the project intervention.
During the one-day data analysis workshop the methodology and analysis plan for the baseline quality assessment was proposed and discussed. The workshop was attended by epidemiologists and researchers representing all the partner institutions. All of them participated very enthusiastic in the workshop which resulted in lots of valuable inputs.
The consortium meeting which took place the 8th and 9th of May was a lively meeting with lots of fruitful discussions. It was nice and very useful to meet all researchers to discuss, decide and agree on next research steps.
More information:

Age-disparity, sexual connectedness and HIV infection in disadvantaged communities around Cape Town, South Africa
This month, a new survey is launched in Cape Town, in a fresh attempt to better understand relationship dynamics and sexual risk behaviour in three peri-urban disadvantaged communities in the greater Cape Town area with a high burden of HIV.
This study, a joint project by ICRH and the South African Centre fore Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis (SACEMA), focuses on age disparity (large age differences between sexual partners), concurrency (overlapping relationships) as well as other risk factors such as inconsistent condom use and the use of alcohol and recreational drugs.
Surveys of sexual risk behaviour are challenged by social desirability bias, i.e. the interviewees provide the “socially correct” answers rather than the truth. For this reason, this new survey will be administered in a minibus that was transformed into a safe and confidential mobile interview space. Rather than face-to-face interviews, the survey is conducted through audio computer-assisted self-interview (ACASI) technology on touch screen computers in a language of the participant’s choice. The survey will include 1500 study participants and will run for 6 months.
More information:


New Country Director at ICRH Mozambique
Beatrice Crahay started to work as Director of ICRH Mozambique in April 2011. 
Trained as medical doctor, Beatrice worked for Médecins Sans Frontières in Africa and Asia before obtaining her Master's in Public Health from Johns Hopkins University. In 1996, she started to work for UNFPA. After three years in UNFPA New York she went to Mozambique as Deputy Representative and then to Burundi as Representative.  She joined WHO in 2006 as HIV/AIDS medical officer.  In this position she supported the Ministry of health of Guinea and Uganda to implement the HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and surveillance activities. Her special interest is integration of sexual and reproductive health programme within a health system approach.
More information: Beatrice Crahay

ICRH Mozambique is recruiting a Deputy Country Director
The deputy country director will be based in Tete, Mozambique.
The main responsibilities will be to implement and monitor reproductive health projects for most at risk populations, to manage the administration and finances of ICRH Tete office programmes, and to represent ICRH Mozambique to partners in Tete Province.
A full job description can be found at
More information: Beatrice Crahay


Estimating the number of women with female genital mutilation in Belgium
An attempt to estimate the number of women with female genital mutilation (FGM) living
in Belgium, the number of girls at risk, and the target population of medical and social
services (MSSs) concerned.
Data about prevalence of FGM from the most recently published Demographic
and Health Surveys and Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys,  were applied to females living in
Belgium who migrated from countries where excision or infibulation are being practised, and
to their daughters. Amongst the 22,840 women and girls living in Belgium who are from a country
concerned, 6,260 have ‘most probably already undergone a FGM’ (women born in the
country of origin), and 1,975 are ‘at risk’ (second generation born in Belgium). The target
population of MSSs comprises 1,190 girls less than five years old attending well-baby clinics,
1,690 girls aged 5–19 years attending preventive school health centres, 4,905 women 20–49
years old and 450 women over 50 years of age attending reproductive health services. The
population of women concerned is unequally dispersed in Belgium and reflects the
distribution of migrant settlement in the different provinces.
The authors conclude that FGM in Belgium requires a more concerted approach in terms of prevention, and medical and social care. Accurate information about the distribution of women
concerned should permit better planning of competent services.
Dubourg D, Richard F, Leye E, Ndame S, Rommens T, Maes S. Estimating the number of women with female genital mutilation in Belgium. Eur J Contracept Reprod Health Care. 2011 May 11. [Epub ahead of print]
More information:

Sexual and physical violence against female sex workers in Kenya: a qualitative enquiry
This qualitative study documents female sex workers’ (FSW) experiences of sexual and physical violence in Mombasa and Naivasha, Kenya.
Eighty-one FSW who obtained clients from the streets, transportation depots, taverns, discos and residential areas were recruited through local sex workers trained as peer counsellors to participate in eight focus-group discussions. Analysis showed the pervasiveness of sexual and physical violence among FSW, commonly triggered by negotiation around condoms and payment. Pressing financial needs of FSW, gender-power differentials, illegality of trading in sex and cultural subscriptions to men's entitlement for sex sans money underscore much of this violence. Sex workers with more experience had developed skills to avoid threats of violence by identifying potentially violent clients, finding safer working areas and minimising conflict with the police. Addressing violence and concomitant HIV risks and vulnerabilities faced by FSW should be included in Kenya's national HIV/AIDS strategic plan. This study indicates the need for multilevel interventions, including legal reforms so that laws governing sex work promote the health and human rights of sex workers in Kenya.
Okal J, Chersich MF, Tsui S, Sutherland E, Temmerman M, Luchters S. Sexual and physical violence against female sex workers in Kenya: a qualitative enquiry. AIDS Care. 2011 May;23(5):612-8.

How different are the costs and consequences of delayed versus immediate HIV treatment?
This opinion piece takes a closer look at the long-term HIV epidemic curve and the cost curve if HIV treatment in South Africa were to be initiated earlier in the disease progression.
A new approach to HIV prevention, focusing on regular HIV testing and HAART provision regardless of CD4 count or stage of disease, has been proposed. In response to the debate over the affordability of this treatment-for-prevention strategy, the authors compared long-term costs and consequences of delayed versus immediate HIV treatment. The ultimate cost savings of delayed HAART initiation are likely to be small relative to the total cost of treatment, and may even be offset by excess indirect costs. On the other hand, HAART initiation shortly after HIV infection has a far greater potential to reduce the incidence of HIV and HIV-related illnesses – most importantly TB.
Welte A, Hargrove, Delva W, Williams B, Stander T. How different are the costs and consequences of delayed versus immediate HIV treatment? S Afr Med J. 2011;101:377-380.
More information:
Link to full-text article: