We used a qualitative approach to explore the contribution of contextual, individual, household-level and health system factors to stillbirth in Afghanistan. We conducted semi-structured in-depth interviews with women and men that experienced stillbirth, female elders, community health workers, healthcare providers, and government officials in Kabul Province, Afghanistan, between October-November 2017. We used thematic analysis to identify contributing factors and developed a conceptual map describing possible pathways to stillbirth. We found that low utilisation and access to healthcare was a key contributing factor, as were unmanaged conditions in pregnancy that increased women’s risk of complications and stillbirth. Sociocultural factors related to the treatment of women and perceptions about medical interventions deprived women of interventions that could potentially prevent stillbirth. The quality of care from public and private providers during pregnancy and childbirth was a recurring concern exacerbated by health system constraints that led to unnecessary delays; while environmental factors linked to the ongoing conflict were also perceived to contribute to stillbirth. These pathways were underscored by social, cultural, economic factors and individual perceptions that contributed to the three-delays.

Several recent studies have attempted to measure the prevalence of disrespect and abuse (D&A) of women during childbirth in health facilities. Variations in reported prevalence may be associated with differences in study instruments and data collection methods. This systematic review and comparative analysis of methods aims to aggregate and present lessons learned from published studies that quantified the prevalence of D&A during childbirth.

We assessed a participatory community and health system intervention to reduce the prevalence of disrespect and abuse during childbirth in Tanzania. After implementation of the combined intervention, the likelihood of women’s reports of disrespectful treatment during childbirth was substantially reduced. These results were observed nearly 1 year after the end of the project’s facilitation of implementation, indicating the potential for sustainability. The results indicate that a participatory community and health system intervention designed to tackle disrespect and abuse by changing the norms and standards of care is a potential strategy to improve the treatment of women during childbirth at health facilities.

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