Newsletter July 2011

ICRH Belgium Newsletter

 20th of July?, 2011



ICRH Kenyan PhD Week
From 6 to 8 July, three ICRH PhD scholars have successfully defended their dissertation: Jerry Okoth Okal, Scott Geibel and Avina Sarna. It was a most inspiring and cheerful week for ICRH.
All three dissertations were based on research that has been conducted in Kenya. Scott and Jerry are working for Population Council in Nairobi, Avina is affiliated to the Population Council’s Delhi office. After their public defense, the three were awarded the title ‘Doctor of Medical Science’.
On the occasion of the Kenyan PhD Week, we received the visit of three representatives of ICRH Kenya: Lou Dierick (Director F&A of ICRHK), Dr. Kishor Mandalya (Biomarkers Project Coordinator) and Prof. Walter Jaoko (Acting Country Director).
The dissertations are published in the series ‘ICRH Monographs’ and can be downloaded from the ICRH website:


Dr. Jerry Okoth Okal,  Sexual and Reproductive Health Risks among key populations Vulnerable to HIV in Kenya:
Dr. Avina Sarna, Sexual Behaviours of People Living with HIV: Implications for Prevention with Positives:
Dr. Scott Geibel, Same-sex behaviour of men in Kenya: Implications for HIV prevention, programs and policy:

From left to right: Prof. Walter Jaoko, Dr. Jerry Okal, Prof. Marleen Temmerman, Dr. Scott Geibel, Dr. Avina Sarna, Lou Dierick, Dr. Kishor Mandalya



Conference on female genital mutilation 
A symposium entitled "International Conference on research, healthcare and preventive measures for female genital cutting (FGC) and support for capacity strengthening of leadership and research in Africa", is scheduled to take place on the 17th - 19th October, 2011 in Nairobi, Kenya.
The symposium will be organized by the University of Sydney, the World Health Organization, UNFPA and the International Centre for Reproductive Health – Ghent University. The primary purpose of this conference is to review existing knowledge and to identify knowledge gaps with regards to the health consequences of FGC and their treatment, as well as to review community based interventions against FGC and their efficacy.
More information: Els Leye

ICRH travelling exposition: Beyond figures
ICRH projects are about real people and their struggle for sexual health. This reality sometimes gets hidden from sight by the scientific research approach. A photo exhibition, launched at the end of 2010, brings the human and societal side of the ICRH work under the attention of a broad public.
Researchers are mainly busy with ‘objectively verifiable data’. That is often also the case at the ICRH. Worldwide we are studying aspects of sexual and reproductive health. We try to think objectively and rationally for our publications and analyses. But our job also has another angle. We are working with people. We meet, observe, interview, talk and teach. Pure reason often fails and then we have to continue with our gut feeling. However, in scientific articles you cannot even read this gut feeling between the lines. With the exhibition ‘Beyond Figures’, we are presenting our work in a different way. Liesbet Christiaen explains with sensitive pictures. The ICRH staff members  Kristien, Dirk and Peter wrote warm-hearted stories. The exhibition consists of 34 photo and text (in Dutch) panels (44cmx38cmx71cm) made of light material, and it can be borrowed for free.  Some of the pictures from the exhibition can be seen at
More information:

ICRH FUN-Day: Floating around in Ghent
ICRH Belgium staff had its annual FUN-Day on June 30th. On this day all ICRH-staff members are warmly invited to get away from their desks and relax in a care-free atmosphere.
To get into the right mood, the FUN team (Anke, Carla, Ellen, Els and Sara) set up a small quest which led their colleagues to a beautiful, but well-hidden part of Ghent: the garden of St-Peter’s Abbey. An ideal place for a picnic although the word ‘buffet’ seems more appropriate to describe the setting.
The sun finally started to show itself in the course of the afternoon, while the staff was already enjoying the second surprise of the day: a guided boat tour on the Ghent canals, which provided a different view on the historical centre of the city.

In the evening we gathered around the tables of restaurant ‘Keizershof’ near the ‘Vrijdagmarkt’ for a delicious meal, looking back  on a fun-filled day.

Princess Astrid of Belgium visits ICRH Mozambique
Photo: Lieve BlancquaertPhoto: Lieve BlancquaertOn 10th of June, princess Astrid visited the ICRH offices in Maputo.
The princess, who has also on previous occasions shown interest and sympathy for the work of ICRH, accompanied ICRH director Marleen Temmerman on a trip to Maputo, where she visited the new ICRH offices and was informed on the ongoing and future projects of ICRH Mozambique. Later on, a visit was made to the health centre Primeiro de Maio, in particular to see the activities around mother and child health, ante-natal care and youth friendly health services. The health centre Primeiro de Maio is one of the ten health centres in the country that is part of a demonstration project, whereby ICRH assists the Ministry of Health to improve the quality of antenatal care services.
More information: Béatrice Crahay




Cerca-video: Voces de Cuenca
 ‘Voces de Cuenca’ is made within the scope of the Cerca project, ‘Community Embedded reproductive Health Care for Adolescents in Latin America’, an international project coordinated by ICRH and funded by the European Commission (FP7).
One of the main objectives of the Cerca project is to contribute to the knowledge about how health systems could be more responsive to the sexual and reproductive health needs of adolescents. To be able to obtain this goal, the Cerca team considers it important to know the opinion of the adolescents themselves. Therefore, they do not only conduct large scale inquiries but they also have in depth conversations with the adolescents.  As a result of the latter, the University of Amsterdam, the coordinator of the qualitative research component of the Cerca project, developed a video together with director Dylan Howitt. This video shows Ecuadorian adolescents talking about their sexual and reproductive health, their experiences and their opinions.  The video is accessible on the Cerca website ( ) and on you tube ( It is in Spanish without English subtitles.
More information:



Job offer: MOMI Consortium Project Administrator
ICRH is looking for a part-time (50%) Consortium Project Administrator to coordinate all administrative, legal and financial aspects of the MOMI (Missed Opportunities in Maternal and Infant Health) project.
The MOMI project ( focuses on postpartum health care delivery for mothers and newborns in four sub-Saharan countries (Burkina Faso, Kenya, Malawi and Mozambique) throughout the first year after childbirth. The project is implemented by a consortium of 8 research institutions, with ICRH Belgium as the overall coordinator.
The Consortium Project Administrator will be responsible for –among others – administrative coordination, organization and minutes of meetings, maintenance of the website, administrative contacts with project partners, and logistical support. He or she will work closely together with the MOMI consortium project manager and with the ICRH support staff.
The vacancy notice can be downloaded at
More information: Els Duysburgh,

Zhang Xu-dong
Chinese PhD fellow Zhang Xu-dong arrived at the ICRH Belgium offices, where she will work intensively on her PhD research during a couple of months.
Zhang Xu-dong obtained her Master’s in Quantitative Analysis in Social Science from KUL & KUB in 2005. She worked for Asia Regional HIV/AIDS Project funded by AusAID as Harm Reduction Officer from 2005 to 2008. In this position, she oversaw all needle syringe programs across Yunnan province and provided technical advice and support to development and adaptation of local services. In 2008, she joined Yunnan Association for HIV/STIs Prevention and Control as the Project Coordinator for the Accelerate AIDS-Action Project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Global Fund AIDS project to implement intervention, treatment, and surveillance among MSM/FSW/IDU/PLWHA populations. As a PhD student in ICRH, her research focus is on development of health services for HIV/STI prevention among young females involved in drug use and sex work.
More information:


Hannah Lucal
US Student Hannah Lucal is doing an internship at ICRH Belgium with the Sexual and Gender-Based Violence team.
Hannah Lucal is entering her final year of study at Carleton College in Minnesota, USA. She became aware of the discourse surrounding FGM during a term abroad in 2010 in Bamako, Mali. Recently she participated in a health activism project for young women in her community, as well as a peer-facilitated course on female sexuality. These experiences inform her interest in working for the well being of women and girls in all parts of the world. Currently she is interning with the Sexual and Gender-Based Violence team of the ICRH, working on various projects related to forced marriage, honour-related violence, and FGM. Among other tasks, she will be focusing on literature review, policy research, and transcription work to assist the F?HCUS project. She is enjoying the exhilarating environment of the ICRH and intends to continue pursuing her interests in gender issues and international public health after graduation.
More information:


Call for papers on (r)urban Africa
The Ghent Africa Platform issued a call for papers for its 5th symposium, which will take place at Ghent University on December 2, 2011. The focus of ‘GAPSYM5’ is ‘(r)Urban Africa: multidisciplinary approaches to the African city’.
With half of the world’s population living in urban centres today, urbanization (and rurbanization) has become one of the mayor challenges of this century. The fastest urban growth is taking place in sub-Sahara Africa. In this context, development programs have increasingly shifted their focus from the rural to the urban setting. Also academic research on Africa in general has gained an increasing urban focus, in all kinds of disciplines.
GAPSYM5 takes the African city as its central focus and seeks to approach this African urban
context from a wide range of thematic domains: political sciences and anthropology, linguistics and
agriculture, history and medicine, etc…
Paper proposals (max. 300 words, in English or French) should be submitted before  September 1st
2011 to the GAP secretariat (, mentioning “GAPSYM5 – proposal”. By October 1st the scientific committee will notify which papers have been accepted.
Poster presentations: GAPSYM5 offers doctoral students and other researchers the opportunity to present their research projects by means of a poster. Posters do NOT have to refer to the theme of the symposium. Through these poster presentations GAP seeks to give an overview of all current, Africa-related projects and doctoral research at the Ghent University Association. Researchers who would like to submit a poster should also send in an abstract of this poster (before September 1st 2011).
More information:

Use of drinking patterns indicators to detect associations between alcohol and sexual behaviour in male sex workers in Kenya
Stanley Luchters et al. have investigated which alcohol indicator - single-item measures of frequency and patterns of drinking ( > = 6 drinks on 1 occasion), or the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) - can detect associations between alcohol use and unsafe sexual behaviour among male sex workers.
A cross-sectional survey in 2008 recruited male sex workers who sell sex to men from 65 venues in Mombasa district, Kenya, similar to a 2006 survey. Information was collected on socio-demographics, on substance use, on sexual behaviour, on violence and on STI symptoms. Multivariate models examined associations between the three measures of alcohol use and condom use, sexual violence, and penile or anal discharge.
Based on the results, the researchers conclude that male sex workers have high levels of hazardous and harmful drinking, and require alcohol-reduction interventions. Compared with indicators of drinking frequency or pattern, the AUDIT measure has stronger associations with inconsistent condom use, STI symptoms and sexual violence. Increased use of the AUDIT tool in future studies may assist in delineating with greater precision the explanatory mechanisms which link alcohol use, drinking contexts, sexual behaviours and HIV transmission.
Use of AUDIT, and measures of drinking frequency and patterns to detect associations between alcohol and sexual behaviour in male sex workers in Kenya. Stanley Luchters, Scott Geibel, Masila Syengo, Daniel Lango, Nzioki King'ola, Marleen Temmerman and Matthew F Chersich. BMC Public Health 2011, 11:384doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-384
The full text is available at

Infertility investigations in Kigali, Rwanda.
The objectives of this study were to assess the outcome of infertility investigations and an 18-month follow-up of 312 infertile women and their partners in Rwanda.
Between November 2007 and May 2009, an infertility research clinic was opened. Infertile couples received basic infertility investigations, the available treatment was provided and couples were followed up over an 18-month period. The infertility remained unexplained in 3%, was due to a female factor in 31%, due to a male factor in 16% or due to a combination of male and female causes in 50% of fully investigated couples (n = 224). A tubal factor was found in 69% of women, a male factor in 64% of men. Predictors for tubal infertility in women included a history of high-risk sexual behaviour, HIV infection and a history of sexually transmitted infection (STI) symptoms in the male partner. After 12-18 months of follow-up, 40 pregnancies (16%) had occurred in 244 women. The study shows high rates of tubal and male factor infertility in Rwanda. Pregnancy rates were low after conventional therapy. In order to provide effective and affordable treatment for infertility in resource-poor countries, the development of low-cost assisted reproductive technologies is needed.
Results of infertility investigations and follow-up among 312 infertile women and their partners in Kigali, Rwanda. Dhont N, van de Wijgert J, Vyankandondera J, Busasa R, Gasarabwe A, Temmerman M. Trop Doct. 2011 Apr;41(2):96-101.

And also:

Contraceptive needs of female sex workers in Kenya - A cross-sectional study.
Sutherland EG, Alaii J, Tsui S, Luchters S, Okal J, King'ola N, Temmerman M, Janowitz B.
Eur J Contracept Reprod Health Care. 2011 Jun;16(3):173-82. Epub 2011 Mar 17.

Perceived stigma among patients receiving antiretroviral treatment: a prospective randomised trial comparing an m-DOT strategy with standard-of-care in Kenya.
Kaai S, Bullock S, Sarna A, Chersich M, Luchters S, Geibel S, Munyao P, Mandaliya K, Temmerman M, Rutenburg N.
SAHARA J. 2010 Aug;7(2):62-70.

A systematic review of African studies on intimate partner violence against pregnant women: prevalence and risk factors.
Shamu S, Abrahams N, Temmerman M, Musekiwa A, Zarowsky C.
PLoS One. 2011 Mar 8;6(3):e17591.