|The Female Client and the Health-care Provider (IDRC, 1995)|
This selection of papers represents the fourth in a series of essay competitions jointly sponsored by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Program for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR). The first competition was undertaken in 19891990; researchers were invited to submit papers on the theme of women and tropical diseases. A selection of the top 10 papers was published by IDRC under the title Women and Tropical Diseases. Criteria for judgement included scientific merit, relevance to gender issues, innovative ideas, research recommendations, review of the literature, and knowledge of the field. Although the general quality of the papers was excellent, the competition highlighted a gap in research on tropical diseases and gender, that is, the sociocultural differences pertaining to the roles that men and women perform. Hoping to further research and understanding in this field, IDRC and TDR sponsored subsequent competitions in 1992, 1993, and 1994. Abstracts from the third competition, titled Gender and Tropical Diseases: Facing the Challenge, are published in Gender, Health, and Sustainable Development: Proceedings of a Workshop held in Nairobi, Kenya, 5-8 October, 1993.
For this fourth competition, the theme has progressed from women and tropical diseases generally, to the factors that facilitate or inhibit women's use of health services, including the provider-client relationship. Several of the papers contained in this selection do not focus specifically on quality of care issues, but as they contribute significantly to the results on gender and tropical diseases more widely and relate to the objectives of the initiative as a whole, we have included them here.
The papers were judged independently by a panel consisting of representatives from IDRC and the Gender and Tropical Diseases Task Force (TDR) who were unaware of the authors' identities. A set of criteria was developed and agreed upon by the judges before the review. Each paper was then scored accordingly. The papers varied widely in the level of analysis and inclusion of gender as the focal point. There is a clear need to build capacity in this important area of research.
The winner of this competition was The Assessment of Quality of Care in Prenatal Services In Irbid, North Jordan: Women's Perspectives, written by Salah Mawajdeh, Ra'eda Al-Qutob, and Firas Bin Raad. The other papers in this selection appear alphabetically by author.
We see this publication as an exciting beginning to an area of research on quality of health care for women, taken in a holistic sense that goes beyond maternal, family planning, and reproductive health, which will receive a great deal of attention in the next few years. Donor agencies have already taken up the lead in addressing this issue of quality of care and gender in Latin America. Interest and commitment to this area of research is necessary before programme and policy development can be influenced in the years to come.
Janet Hatcher Roberts
Lori Jones Arsenault
Janet Hatcher Roberts and Lori Jones Arsenault are with the Health Sciences Division, IDRC, Ottawa, Canada; Carol Vlassoff is with the Special Program for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.