Operations research in reproductive health: training course in Tajikistan

Abdonas Tamosiunas

A training course on operations research in reproductive health, organized jointly by WHO/Europe and WHO headquarters, was held on 7–18 May 2012 in Dushanbe. 

Operations research in reproductive health provides scientific evidence to support health managers in their efforts to make health services work more efficiently. The training was facilitated by representatives of the Human Reproductive Health Research Center of Lithuanian University of Health Sciences: Egle Barcaite, Lina Jaruseviciene, Skirmante Sauliune and Professor Abdonas Tamosiunas.

Facilitators collaborated with participants from the National Scientific Research Institute of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Perinatology of Tajikistan's Ministry of Health in developing operations research project proposals on increasing community involvement in antenatal care, expanding the skills of health providers in the area of cervical cancer prevention and methods that could be used to increase health care providers’ compliance with official medical guidelines. 


Although reproductive health indicators have reflected positive change in Tajikistan over the past few decades, maternal and perinatal mortality rates (46.5 per 100 000 live births and 16.1 per 1000 births in 2009, respectively) remain significantly higher than the average for the WHO European Region (13.5 per 100 000 live births and 7.5 per 1000 births in 2010, respectively) and the European Union (6.1 per 100 000 live births and 5.6 per 1000 births in 2010, respectively (Source: WHO Health for All database, 2012). Various factors contribute to these higher rates, including a low health care budget (approximately 1% of GDP), a poorly developed health insurance system and limited access to health care services especially in remote areas (93% of Tajikistan's surface area is covered by mountains). 

In designing plans to improve the situation, national programme managers have placed emphasis on strengthening research capacity in the area of sexual and reproductive health. To this end, the National Scientific Research Institute of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Perinatology of the Ministry of Health requested support from WHO for capacity building in operations research in reproductive health. The operations research training course, held on 7–18 May in Dushanbe, was an important step toward achieving this objective.