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BMC Public Health. 2022 Mar 4;22(1):438. doi: 10.1186/s12889-022-12708-w.


BACKGROUND: The United Nations through universal health coverage, including sexual and reproductive health (SRH), pledges to include all people, leaving no one behind. However, people with disabilities continue to experience multiple barriers in accessing SRH services. Studies analyzing the impacts of disability in conjunction with other social identities and health determinants reveal a complex pattern in SRH service use. Framed within a larger mixed methods study conducted in Uganda, we examined how disability, among other key social determinants of health (SDH), was associated with the use of SRH services.

METHODS: We analyzed data from repeated cross-sectional national surveys, the Uganda Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) of 2006, 2011, and 2016. The three outcomes of interest were antenatal care visits, HIV testing, and modern contraception use. Our main exposure of interest was the type of disability, classified according to six functional dimensions: seeing, hearing, walking/climbing steps, remembering/concentrating, communicating, and self-care. We performed descriptive and multivariable logistical regression analyses, which controlled for covariates such as survey year, sex, age, place of residence, education, and wealth index. Interaction terms between disability and other factors such as sex, education, and wealth index were explored. Regression analyzes were informed by an intersectionality framework to highlight social and health disparities within groups.

RESULTS: From 2006 to 2016, 15.5-18.5% of study participants lived with some form of disability. Over the same period, the overall prevalence of at least four antenatal care visits increased from 48.3 to 61.0%, while overall HIV testing prevalence rose from 30.8 to 92.4% and the overall prevalence of modern contraception use increased from 18.6 to 34.2%. The DHS year, highest education level attained, and wealth index were the most consistent determinants of SRH service utilization. People with different types of disabilities did not have the same SRH use patterns. Interactions between disability type and wealth index were associated with neither HIV testing nor the use of modern contraception. Women who were wealthy with hearing difficulty (Odds Ratio (OR) = 0.15, 95%CI 0.03 – 0.87) or with communication difficulty (OR = 0.17, 95%CI 0.03 – 0.82) had lower odds of having had optimal antenatal care visits compared to women without disabilities who were poorer.

CONCLUSION: This study provided evidence that SRH service use prevalence increased over time in Uganda and highlights the importance of studying SRH and the different disability types when examining SDH. The SDH are pivotal to the attainment of universal health coverage, including SRH services, for all people independent of their social identities.

PMID:35246094 | DOI:10.1186/s12889-022-12708-w


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