Milken Institute School of Public Health Poster Presentations (Marvin Center & Video)

Title

Developing the Health Profile for Female Children Formerly Associated with Armed Forces and Armed Groups in the Reintegration Processes

Poster Number

82

Document Type

Poster

Status

Graduate Student - Masters

Abstract Category

Global Health

Keywords

Child Soldiers,

Publication Date

Spring 2018

Abstract

Background: Although twenty years since the Cape Town Principles, armed groups continue to actively target children, including young girls. Girls within armed forces fulfill roles ranging from cooks or caretakers, to wives or active combatants. These young women are often called female children associated with armed groups and armed forces (CAAFAG), with the term ‘association’ capturing the varied roles they assume within armed forces. Despite recognition of their presence, little is known about the health impacts of association with armed groups on girls, and consequently their unique health needs during reintegration into communities. This research aims to understand the health consequences of association on female CAAFAG, and articulate their health priorities upon reintegration. Methods: The research utilized two methodologies to develop the health profile: (1) systematic literature review; (2) analysis of Survey of War Affected Youth (SWAY) data. The systematic literature review, following Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) standards, searched six databases and yielded 734 studies. Following eligibility review, 56 (7.6%) studies were included for final analysis. STATA was used to analyze the SWAY data, examining the impacts of association with armed forces on the health of female youth. The SWAY, funded by UNICEF, was administered in 2007 to 1,044 female youth in Northern Uganda, including female CAAFAG. Criteria were then applied to the health profile, identifying health priorities for female CAAFAG. Results: Three themes emerged in the health profile: psychological, physical, and reproductive health. Findings suggests that CAAFAG face greater psychological consequences than other war affected youth (ex. PTSD), and several studies found that female CAAFAG are at increased risk for depression. SWAY data analysis supports these conclusions, and through multiple regression, demonstrates that exposure to violence often mediates the relationship between psychological distress and abduction status. Beyond mental health, data analysis reveals that abducted girls are younger at age of first birth (p<.001), which may explain some of the reproductive health concerns expressed in the qualitative literature. Additionally, female CAAFAG were more likely than girls never abducted to have been beaten in the past 2 months, and have physical injuries (p<.001). Significance: This research is evidence for a stronger health presence during reintegration. The sparsity of literature on the impacts of association beyond psychological requires further attention. The next phase of this investigation will build off these findings, using the profile to identify where health needs remain unmet for female CAAFAG.

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Developing the Health Profile for Female Children Formerly Associated with Armed Forces and Armed Groups in the Reintegration Processes

Background: Although twenty years since the Cape Town Principles, armed groups continue to actively target children, including young girls. Girls within armed forces fulfill roles ranging from cooks or caretakers, to wives or active combatants. These young women are often called female children associated with armed groups and armed forces (CAAFAG), with the term ‘association’ capturing the varied roles they assume within armed forces. Despite recognition of their presence, little is known about the health impacts of association with armed groups on girls, and consequently their unique health needs during reintegration into communities. This research aims to understand the health consequences of association on female CAAFAG, and articulate their health priorities upon reintegration. Methods: The research utilized two methodologies to develop the health profile: (1) systematic literature review; (2) analysis of Survey of War Affected Youth (SWAY) data. The systematic literature review, following Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) standards, searched six databases and yielded 734 studies. Following eligibility review, 56 (7.6%) studies were included for final analysis. STATA was used to analyze the SWAY data, examining the impacts of association with armed forces on the health of female youth. The SWAY, funded by UNICEF, was administered in 2007 to 1,044 female youth in Northern Uganda, including female CAAFAG. Criteria were then applied to the health profile, identifying health priorities for female CAAFAG. Results: Three themes emerged in the health profile: psychological, physical, and reproductive health. Findings suggests that CAAFAG face greater psychological consequences than other war affected youth (ex. PTSD), and several studies found that female CAAFAG are at increased risk for depression. SWAY data analysis supports these conclusions, and through multiple regression, demonstrates that exposure to violence often mediates the relationship between psychological distress and abduction status. Beyond mental health, data analysis reveals that abducted girls are younger at age of first birth (p<.001), which may explain some of the reproductive health concerns expressed in the qualitative literature. Additionally, female CAAFAG were more likely than girls never abducted to have been beaten in the past 2 months, and have physical injuries (p<.001). Significance: This research is evidence for a stronger health presence during reintegration. The sparsity of literature on the impacts of association beyond psychological requires further attention. The next phase of this investigation will build off these findings, using the profile to identify where health needs remain unmet for female CAAFAG.