Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Balance Between Research and Beneficial Action

After six weeks immersed in two projects for the women of La Danta, Nicaragua, the results were finally in. Knowing La Danta, a community that by flooded rivers and unpaved roads was the most isolated district in Nicaragua's rural areas, had struggled in the past with women's health issues, the AMOS foundation assigned the summer's Women Empowerment team to the people of this community. In this Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) effort, I and a group of four other women addressed behaviors surrounding prenatal health as well as promoted Maternal and Child Health (MCH) through the training of Voluntary Mothers. Through meticulous statistical analysis, the first objective, in which barriers to prenatal care were documented in order to promote four or more prenatal visits among pregnant women, produced definitive, actionable, and surprising results. Variables such as lack of husband approval, of perceived self-efficacy, of perceived severity, of time or money, and of an understanding of the services offered during a prenatal care visit were found to influence La Danta’s mothers’ going to four or more prenatal visits. Once these barriers were identified, the mystery of how to ensure MCH in a place where emergency care could be over four hours away was no longer so difficult to tackle. Because of this research effort, AMOS staff can now train Voluntary Mothers within the community on how to address these barriers when talking to women in their community. With these future goals in mind, the Women Empowerment team also achieved a second objective in these weeks—to recruit eight new Voluntary Mothers and recruit them in home visits. Through a balanced combination of research and tangible action within the community, this summer has successfully built a solid foundation on which MCH outcomes can be improved among some of the most powerful, compassionated, and brave women I have ever known.

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