Johnson DC, Lhaki P, Buehler Cherry C, Kempf MC, Chamot E, Vermund SH, Shrestha S. Spatial analysis of the regional variation of reproductive tract infections and spousal migration correlates in Nepal. Geospatial health. 2017 May 30;12(12). 513 p. PMID: 28555484 [PubMed]
Nepal has a diverse geographic landscape that could potentially create clustered subpopulations with regional socio-cultures that could result in differential health outcomes. With an alarming rise in married male populations migrating for work, it is possible that these migrants are engaged in risky sexual behaviour, putting their wives at risk for infectious disease outcomes, including reproductive tract infections (RTI), when they return home. The prevalence of male migration varies by geographic region in Nepal and this variation could potentially contribute to different RTI rates. Using a cross-sectional dataset (the 2011 Nepal Demographic and Health Survey) including 9607 married women, we investigated geospatial and socio-cultural factors associated with the symptoms of RTIs with a focus on the husbands' migration status. Choropleth maps were created to illustrate areas with high percentages of RTIs that correlated with migration patterns. Overall, 31.9% of the husbands were migrating for work. After adjusting for wealth, contraception use, age at first marriage, urban/rural status and husband's education, women whose husbands had been absent for a year or more in Nepal's Mid-West region (OR 1.93 95%, CI 1.02-3.67) or Far-West region (OR 2.89 95%, CI 1.24-6.73) were more likely to report RTI-like symptoms than others. Our results suggest a potential association between husbands' migration status and Nepali women reporting RTI symptoms by geographic regions. However, further research is needed to put this outcome on a stronger footing with respect to this under-studied population, specifically in the context of geographical variation.