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Refugee women face daunting healthcare needs

Ruth Nara
Research Awards

Ruth Nara’s work as a 2017 IDRC Research Award Recipient “reinforced my passion for improving the health of the most vulnerable populations, including displaced women and children,” she says. “I am more than encouraged to continue contributing to reducing the systemic inequalities that affect access to health.”

During field studies in Kampala and the Nakivale Refugee Settlement, Nara sought to understand the reproductive health needs of Congolese refugees in Uganda, including maternal health and delivery care, contraception, and abortion and post-abortion care.

She found that maternal healthcare was inadequate: human resources were insufficient, facilities were poor, and medications were not always available. Women faced long waits to get care, sometimes resorting to offering bribes for services. Many faced discrimination when accessing services, and language barriers compounded these problems.

Nara believes that her research findings will ultimately contribute to policies and programs to improve reproductive health rights and services for conflict-affected populations in Uganda. The fieldwork, she says, “reminded me that I was in the right place and I should continue to be in this space.”

Equally important, it brought home “that the women I spoke with in this study are people, just like you and me. They’re not just numbers, they’re not just subjects, but they’re living, breathing people who have their human potential and deserve support and respect of their human rights.”

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