Funded by the Independent Social Research Foundation (ISRF), the study will be led by Dr Bregje De Kok, Lecturer in International Health at IIHD, Queen Margaret University. Dr De Kok said;
“Loss in childbearing is a medical and social tragedy for which we need new solutions. Current policy treats potential users of maternal health services in developing countries as rational decision-makers who will seek care if given enough information and practical barriers are removed. It is assumed that providers will provide adequate care if properly trained, paid and resourced. However, it is becoming clear that information and access to free, accessible care does not guarantee use of services.’
“In Malawi for example, obstructed labour can be seen as signalling a woman's infidelity, and she could be kept at home until she confesses. Practitioners' moral judgements may also underpin substandard maternal care. We need to go beyond the usual assessment of accounts of loss and maternity care, to examine how such accounts evoke local interpretations of human rights. The outcome of this interdisciplinary approach could affect future policy and begin to improve on the stark contrast in childbirth loss that currently exists between developing and developed countries.”
Dr De Kok’s research, which will take twelve months to complete, will draw on insights from public health, medical sociology, anthropology and psychology and will bring a discourse analysis into an area currently dominated by quantitative public health approaches.
QMU’s Institute for International Health and Development (IIHD) is one of the longest established centres working on the social determinants of health in low and middle income settings in the UK. IIHD focuses on multidisciplinary postgraduate education, research and technical assistance to development agencies, non-government organisations and government. It has an excellent track record in educating postgraduate students at MSc and PhD level to contribute to health and social well-being in low and middle income countries.
The Independent Social Research Foundation (ISRF) is a public benefit foundation funded by a group of private philanthropists with interests in academia and social science, founded in 2008. It is dedicated to cross-fertilisation in the social sciences, the promotion of new modes of inquiry and the development of interdisciplinary expertise and methods. One of its specific objectives is to promote better understanding of social entities and processes and see this used in solving subject specific problems. For more information, visit www.isrf.org.