Difference in Obstetric Care between U.S. and Eastern European Countries


OBGYN.net Conference CoverageFrom American/Austrian Conference, Salzburg Austria March 4-10, 2000

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Susan Baker: "I’m in Salzburg, Austria and I’m talking to Dr. Richard Markowitz who wants to say something to American obstetricians. Dr. Markowitz take it away."

Dr. Richard Markowitz: "Thank you, Susie, it’s a pleasure to be here in Salzburg. We’re at a conference designed to provide an educational experience to Eastern European physicians who are in the process of becoming leaders within their own countries. It’s amazing to me the challenges and the difficulties, which they face in medicine in the care of the unborn and newly born child. This is obviously an area of great concern throughout the world, and these are very dedicated people trying their best to accomplish rather major goals. Part of our mission here is to provide not only information that can be useful and practical but to provide a setting where the Western educational tradition is imparted to people who have grown up in a very different sort of medical education setting. We take for granted the questioning, the interaction, and the challenging of ideas which in many parts of the world has not been the standard where the Professor speaks, everyone listens, and that information is stable and static for many, many years to come. We know, of course, that information changes by the moment and everything that we learn one day may be subject to change and revision the next day, and this is part of the very exciting system of medicine in the United States which continually moves on and on. I think we sometimes take that for granted in our own settings but here it has been brought very much alive to all of us that the imparting of ideas, the questioning of ideas, the challenging of these ideas, and the application in settings which may be sub optimal is really a remarkable thing.

I would say that the role of diagnostic imaging in these countries is much different than in the United States. There are not nearly as many specialists and people with expertise, and yet, there are people with really outstanding backgrounds and information that unfortunately because of a lack of technology, they find it difficult to use. It is true, however, that in terms of imaging, ultrasound is one of the major modalities that is available throughout the world and it is those who have access to it who can derive as much information as possible that may help in the determination of the outcome. I know that in the United States, we have not only developed outstanding ultrasound but we’re in the process of developing prenatal MR and other techniques which are giving us more and more information about the anatomy, pathology, and physiology of the fetus. This is very, very exciting to us about some of the specialized areas, particularly in areas of fetal surgery and the entire research effort in this area. But for the Eastern European physicians that we are in contact with here, there are some even more basic aspects that they really need to dwell on and concentrate on because of the overwhelming problems that they face. I think we’re very lucky in the United States. We take lots of wonderful things for granted but it is absolutely amazing the dedication and the commitment that these people have even in the face of rather meager resources to try to accomplish the things that they’re trying to accomplish. I would recommend to any of my colleagues in the United States, if they have the opportunity to visit any of these places and participate in the medical education experience, it would be greatly, greatly appreciated by those people, they are longing for contact with the English speaking world. The Internet certainly is one of the ways in which they can establish this contact and where they can consult, ask questions, and have dialogue. It’s been very, very exciting to be here and to speak to these wonderful physicians about their problems. Thank you."

Susan Baker: "Dr. Markowitz, can you tell us something about yourself and some of your background?"

Dr. Richard Markowitz: "I was born in Brooklyn, New York which is not a third world country anymore but it is the land of the free and the home of the brave. I grew up in New York City and was educated medically in Syracuse, New York. I’m now in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where I’m on the staff of the Children’s Hospital Philadelphia, Department of Radiology and Professor of Radiology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine."

Susan Baker: "Thank you very much."

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