Natalie Vinkeles Melchers, KIT advisor, was working in Burundi last week.
“Bienvenue au Burundi! This was one of the first sentences that was repeated to me with a wide smile by many Burundians when I arrived in Bujumbura on Sunday the 28th of September. Before entering the East-African country, my temperature was measured to be sure that no air traveller would carry ebola into the country. I met my two KIT colleagues, Anke van der Kwaak and Selma Scheewe, in the hotel ground where they stayed the night. I was immediately introduced to our Burundi Share-Net colleagues while appetising a Makeke (fish from Lake Victoria), with two grey crowned cranes dancing around us. Arriving in the Burundi mountains, Banga, the second week of the training “Reinforce the capacity of public health research in Burundi: qualitative research in sexual and reproductive health” started. The group consisted of 25 participants, well mixed with high-level male and female professionals (e.g. teachers, directors of research institutes, employees of the Institut National de Santé Publique [INSP]). During the training, the five groups of participants held focus group discussions and interviews with members of the local community on different topics:
1) Attitudes of couples on family planning [FP] in relation to religion;
2) Experiences of women with fistula;
3) Out-of-school youth and early marriage;
4) Perceptions of FP messages;
5) Socio-cultural factors that influence FP uptake.
The groups had very rich discussions, and showed profound experiences and perceptions. For example, one mother said the following about the consequences of early pregnancy in relation to early marriage among out-of-school youth;
“….The women will especially bring a poor life, brings to the world a physically fragile child. The child and the mother can contract nutritional diseases, such as ‘kwashiorkor’…”
The training was a good mix between independent group work, and interactive teaching. The five groups of participants are currently writing full research proposals that they will implement in the coming two months, and for which Ethical Approval will be requested. After the implementation of the research, a second training on “data analysis and reporting“ will be provided by the KIT”