International Maternal and Reproductive Health and Migration

World map with the countries we work with

Our aim

The aim is to develop practical solutions and provide evidence based knowledge to healthcare professionals and policy makers to improve the sexual and reproductive health and related services in a global perspective.

We follow a transdisciplinary approach in our research through engaging with relevant academic and non-academic stakeholders to shorten the distance between research and implementation of findings.

The research group consists of researchers from different academic disciplines and nationalities. This mix gives the group strength, width and depth that are crucial for quality and interdisciplinary research in an international setting.

The group is at the forefront of researching various aspects affecting the health of immigrants including refugees. Research projects carried out by the group range from identifying factors to promote health in immigration detention centers, exploring factors for successful reception and integration of unaccompanied minors to identifying challenges and solutions to improve the quality of sexual and reproductive healthcare services provided to immigrants in Europe. Our understanding of immigrants and their health in their home countries help us to better understand their challenges in Sweden and to find solutions - a logical part of global reproductive health.

The research group

The very nature of academic scholarship is  critical investigation and critical dialogue. Our interdisciplinary group explores, investigates and intervenes to improve the health of people and healthcare services in Sweden and countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Along with our partners, we learn and contribute to the society to promote health, especially sexual and reproductive health, and health within the context of migration.  We raise questions that are challenging, often paradoxical and unconventional, in order to understand the complexity of the concept of SRHR. We create bridges between countries and societies through exchange of knowledge and engagement with partners in the respective countries. 

Policy impact of our research

  • We have had two governmental commissions on female circumcision and clinical guidelines for meeting patient seeking-care for honour-related violence on behalf of the Minister of Gender and Equity resulting in hand books for professionals. Expert contribution to The Swedish Board of Health and Social Welfare, with new national guidelines for health care providers meeting women and children with cultural background of circumcision of children.
  • The results from study on health of immigrants detained in Swedish detention centers have been disseminated in collaboration with the Swedish Migration Agency. It had resulted in majority of our recommendations being implemented or forming the basis to improve services, especially health care services, provided for immigrants and to improve the training provided for detention staff.
  • A Swedish Governmental Inquiry from February 2016 about the legal issues on surrogacy, refers to our study with commissioning parents and social workers dealing with legal parenthood after transnational surrogacy. The referrals are based on interviews with Anna Arvidsson and the paper; “Views of Swedish commissioning parents relating to exploitation discourse in using transnational surrogacy”. The inquiry’s advice regarding transnational surrogacy would, to some extent, facilitate for the genetic father to become a legal parent, in order to secure the child’s legal status.
  • The findings from the randomized controlled trial on simplified follow-up of medical abortion was cited and used as strong evidence to come up with a set of recommendations by the WHO, which has resulted in the publication of the guideline ”Health workers’ role in providing safe abortion care and post-abortion contraception”. Our research was the only research that could contribute to recommendations on simplified follow-up after medical abortion in low-resource settings where women are largely illiterate and where autonomy is limited.  WHO has also used our results from Tanzania in order to develop guidelines based on The Robson classification for reducing high rates of caesarean sections in low income settings.
  • At the University  Hospital of Uppsala, Akademiska sjukhuset, Birgitta Essén is running a transcultural  clinic especially for immigrant women and young girls, focusing on reproductive health and obstetric problems, as well as female circumcision.

Collaborating centres and alumni

Europe/Sweden

  • Professor Kristina Gemzell, WHO collaborating center, Karolinska Institutet (http://ki.se/start)
  • Professor Sara Johnsdotter and Associate Professor Aje Carlbom Malmö Högskola (http://www.mah.se/)
  • Associate Professor Lennarth Nyström, Umeå universitet (http://www.umu.se/)
  • Högskolan Dalarna (http://www.du.se/sv)
  • International Organization for Migration, Brussels (http://eea.iom.int/)
  • Professor Elisabeth Darj, Department of Public Health and General Practice, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway (http://www.ntnu.edu/ism)

Asia

Latin America

Africa

Scientific seminars and workshops

Research Seminar in Falsterbo 2016 (in Swedish) 

  • Expert meeting of the Eastern Partnership Panel on Migration and Asylum,  Moldova to discuss immigration detention 2014.
  • Deliver presentation for consultants and residents in obstetrics and gynecology who works at Shahid Beheshti University hospitals at a seminar in Tehran 2013.
  • Policy workshop with the government of India and representatives from five states, including Rajasthan 2014.
  • Experts meetings with EU member states, the Council of Europe, IOM and the Swedish Migration agency to coproduce and facilitate evidence-based policy recommendations to improve ; 2014 and 2015.
  • The preliminary audit findings were presented to doctors, midwives, support staff of maternity wards of national referral hospital, and referring hospital, Muhimbili National Hospital in Dar es Salaam public health system, in a workshop themed: “Improving Quality of Obstetric Care in Dar es Salaam Public Hospitals”, in January 2015.
  • Delivered presentation and distributing the results of the project for obstetricians and gynecologists who work in Tehran

Scientific Nordic Network in Global Reproductive Health

The research group has been hosting network meetings in Uppsala since 2009, where researchers from Nordic countries meet and discuss various aspects of SRHR in low-income countries and refugees in the Western countries.

  • 2009: Abortion among foreign-born women in the Nordic countries – what can we learn from research in their home countries?
  • 2010: Caesarean sections among immigrants and in low-income settings
  • 2010: Female genital cutting as a research topic
  • 2011:”Maternal Near Miss” in different contexts – what can we learn through methodology?
  • 2012: When culture and politics meet research questions within reproductive health
  • 2013: Pregnancy & reproductive rights – to what price?
  • 2015: Religion and reproductive health as a research question, with focus on rights and respect
  • 2016: Sexual and reproductive health without borders—Research om women in disaster zones and in migrants in Europe

Education

  • The research group is highly involved in teaching students at an advance level in midwifery, medicine and public health at Uppsala University, at courses advance level in Global Health, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, and Research methods and has been delivering customized courses for various professional groups such as policemen and social workers in trafficking, domestic violence and female circumcision.
  • Courses in Public Health and Disasters are given to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) professionals prior to their first deployment in the field.
  • We provide multicultural training for midwives and other nurses as well as medical doctors at health centers and hospitals in Sweden.
  • The group is part of the prestigious Network on Humanitarian Action (NOHA) at the Uppsala University.