Newsletter May 2010

ICRH Belgium Newsletter

 5th of May?, 2010


First Lady of Mozambique visits ICRH
On April 7, Ms. Maria da Luz Guebuza, the First Lady of Mozambique, and Ms.  Iolanda Cintura, the Mozambique Minister of Women and Social Affairs, have paid a visit to the ICRH offices in Ghent.
The visit took place within the context of potential future cooperation between the ICRH and the initiatives that are being launched by Ms. Guebuza to protect the interests of women, children, orphans and elderly people.  The ICRH has been active in Mozambique for quite some years, and has established at the end of 2009 ‘ICRH Mozambique’ 
During the meeting, views were exchange d on current and future projects and on the Mozambican policy in the field of sexual and reproductive heath. Especially safe motherhood was given a lot of attention. Both  Ms. Guebuza and prof Temmerman confirmed their engagement to reinforce future cooperation. The meeting was also attended by prof Sorgeloos, representing Ghent University and by representatives of the Flemish International Cooperation Agency (FICA). They expressed their hope that the current cooperation agreement between Flanders and Mozambique will be renewed in the near future. 


Public PhD thesis defense of Wim Delva
ICRH PhD fellow Wim Delva will defend his thesis on “Sexual behaviour and the spread of HIV – Statistical and epidemiological modelling applications” on May 10, in Ghent.
Central in the work are six papers describing the sexual behaviour of populations at increased risk for HIV infection as well as opportunities for HIV prevention. The first two papers investigate the sexual behaviour and contraceptive use of youth in the Balkans. The third paper discusses the conditions required to unlock the potential of HIV prevention through sport-based programmes, while the next paper is a case study of the impact of the AIDS awareness and prevention project of the Mathare Youth Sport Association in Kenya on risky sexual behaviour of youth in Mathare. In the final two papers, epidemiological models are developed to investigate role of concurrent partnerships in the spread of HIV. Rather than to model concurrency explicitly, the null hypothesis – serial monogamy – is modelled, and the doubling of HIV epidemics under serial monogamy is compared to the observed doubling time of the South African HIV epidemic. Additionally, an individual-based stochastic model (SIMPACT) is developed to study the impact of HIV prevention interventions in sexual networks characterised by concurrency and complex age mixing patterns.
More information:

New REPROSTAT website on line
REPROSTAT is a project that aims to create a comprehensive report that describes the present state of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Fertility within the 27 European Union Member States.
A range of literature will be reviewed in all 27 MS to create a SRH and policy "profiles" for each member state, including existing official laws and guidelines; scientific and academic organizations position papers, articles, book chapters, reports, guidelines; NGO documentation; relevant lay press analysis; and relevant "grey" literature. Search terms l include: contraception, teenage pregnancy, assisted reproductive technology, childbearing support, abortion.  The local reviews will be done by the REPROSTAT collaborating partners in the member states. ICRH is member of the Steering Committee and  collaborating partner for Belgium.
The data organization process (analysis and consolidation) will take place in Lisbon and will involve the systematic and critical collation of incoming data from each member state.
The final report will include the member state profiles, a comparison of the SRH situation within the EU, and suggestions to scientists, health authorities and providers, as well as to national and international policy makers.
The new REPROSTAT website contains also the publications that resulted form previous REPROSTAT programmes.
More information:

Honorary doctorate for dr. Peter Piot
On 19 March, Ghent University awarded an honorary doctorate to dr. Peter Piot.
After a career as an academic and international scientific researcher, Peter Piot has spent many years at the forefront of efforts to prevent and fight against HIV/AIDS. In 1983, Peter Piot, then affiliated with the Antwerp Institute for Tropical Medicine, launched the first research into HIV in Zaire. He was also one of the first to discover that HIV was not only a problem for homosexuals but just as much a heterosexual condition. In so doing, he broke through a long-standing taboo and brought about a crucial development in AIDS research. In 1992, Peter Piot moved to Geneva where he became an Associate Director at the UN and in 1995 was appointed head of UNAIDS. He is applauded throughout the world for his strong leadership of UNAIDS and his fine-tuned sense of diplomacy. He has received innumerable awards and worldwide recognition including the UN’s Nelson Mandela Award in 2001.
In her eulogy, prof. Marleen Temmerman praised dr. Piot for his great contribution to the fight against AIDS and for always having combined his scientific research with a social commitment and the defence of the most vulnerable groups in society.

The Global Fund
The Global Fund is looking for experts to serve on its Technical Review Panel.
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is an international financing institution that invests the world’s money to save lives. To date, it has committed USD 19.3 billion in 144 countries to support large-scale prevention, treatment and care programs against the three diseases. Funding proposals submitted to the Global Fund are reviewed by a 43-member Technical Review Panel (TRP). The review takes place about once a year for two weeks.
Experts must be able to review large volumes of documentation under considerable time pressure and work effectively in small groups and large plenary sessions to reach consensus on funding recommendations. They must also be able to present their findings in a clear and concise way, in English, to the full panel, as well as in written form to be communicated to the Board and applicants. 
TRP members can serve for up to four rounds of review and receive an honorarium of USD 9,000 per round. 
For more information on the recruitment process, please visit the website of HLSP, the agency handling this recruitment
For more information on the Global Fund:


“Effectiveness of HIV prevention for youth in sub-Saharan Africa”: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized and nonrandomized trials”
In this article, the authors analyze 28 validated interventions that aim to reduce sexual risk behaviour of young people.
Of the eight outcomes studied, the authors only found a significant impact of the interventions on condom use at last sex in males. No impact was found on sexual activity, nor on biological outcomes. They conclude that there remains a stark mismatch between the HIV burden in youth and the number of attempts to design and test prevention interventions. Attention should go to studying implementation difficulties, sex differences in responses to interventions, determinants of exposure to interventions and perhaps inclusion of other factors apart from HIV/AIDS which influence sexual behaviour.
The abstract can be downloaded at
Michielsen K, Chersich MF, Luchters S, De Koker P, Van Rossem R, Temmerman M. Effectiveness of HIV prevention for youth in sub-Saharan Africa: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized and nonrandomized trials. AIDS. 2010 ; 24:1193–1202
More information:

“A safe motherhood project in Kenya: assessment of antenatal attendance, service provision and implications for PMTCT”
The authors investigated uptake and provision of antenatal care (ANC) services in the Uzazi Bora project, a European Commission funded Safe Motherhood and PMTCT demonstration-intervention project in Kenya.
To this end, data were extracted from antenatal clinic, laboratory and maternity ward registers of all pregnant women attending ANC from January 2004 until September 2006 at three antenatal clinics in Mombasa and two in rural Kwale district of Coast Province, Kenya (n=25 364). Multiple logistic and proportional odds logistic regression analyses assessed changes over time, and determinants of the frequency and timing of antenatal care visits, uptake of HIV testing, and provision of iron sulphate, folate and nevirapine.
About half of women in rural and urban settings (52.2% and 49.2% respectively) attended antenatal clinics only once. Lower parity, urban setting, older age and having received iron sulphate and folate supplements during the first ANC visit were independent predictors of more frequent visits. The first ANC visit occurred after 28 weeks of pregnancy for 30% (5894/19 432) of women. By mid 2006, provision of nevirapine to HIV-positive women had increased from 32.5% and 11.7% in rural and urban clinics, to 67.0% and 74.6% respectively. Equally marked improvements were observed in the uptake of HIV testing and the provision of iron sulphate and folate.
In conclusion, provision of ANC services, including sd-NVP, increased markedly over time. While further improvements in quality are necessary, particular attention is needed to implement evidence-based interventions to alter ANC utilization patterns. Encouragingly, improved provision of basic essential obstetric care, may increase attendance.
Delva W.; Yard E.; Luchters S.; Chersich M. F.; Muigai E.; Oyier V.; Temmerman M. A Safe Motherhood project in Kenya: assessment of antenatal attendance, service provision and implications for PMTCT. Tropical Medicine & International Health. 2010; 5: 584-591
More information:


Bart Craeye
On May 1, Dr. Bart Craeye joined the ICRH to work on an HPV surveillance project.
Dr. Bart Craeye has a master’s degree in Medicine (Ghent University – Belgium). He combines a clinical rotation in gynecology/obstetrics in the university hospital of Ghent with research work for ICRH, where he is involved in an HPV project entitled ‘Surveillance of HPV infections and HPV related disease subsequent to the introduction of HPV vaccination in Belgium’. He has experience as co-investigator in clinical trials, phase 1 and 2 (DRUG – Drug Research Unit Ghent).
More information:


Aida Libombo
Dr. Aida Libombo has spent a week at ICRH Belgium to work on the preparation of her PhD proposal.
Aida is a medical doctor, OB-GYN specialist and was Deputy  Minister of Health in  Mozambique till 2009. She recently started her PhD research project within the context of the Institutional University Cooperation between the Flemish universities and the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane in Maputo, Mozambique. The topic of her research is missed opportunities in maternal health. Prof. Marleen Temmerman is Aida’s PhD promotor.
More information:



Alexander Van Der Biest leaves ICRH
Alexander "Lex" Van der Biest is leaving ICRH Belgium, after having worked here as an intern for 7 months.
Alexander joined ICRH in October 2009, and since then he has contributed to ICRH in many fields and in many ways. His tasks included among others the compilation of information on gender based violence among refugees and asylum seekers, survey data processing, redaction and translation work, and graphic design. Through his great efforts, dedication and skills, Alexander has been a real asset to the team, and we are very grateful for this. Now Alexander is moving on with his career. We wish him all the best and hope to have the opportunity to work together again in the future.
More information:

Google Group for ICRH PhD students
Marlise Richter, ICRH PhD student living and working in South Africa, has created a Google Groups Discussion Forum as a support instrument for the international ICRH PhD students community.
The ICRH has numerous PhD students who are scattered over different continents.   It is likely that many of them will never meet in person. Fortunately, Google has come to the rescue and a Google Groups Discussion Forum has been set up for students to exchange ideas, share research and provide much-needed advice and encouragement when energies are lagging.
Home page:
More information: