Practicing equitable global health

January 28, 2021
Lindsey Carr

Associate Editor for Contemporary OB/GYN

“Whatever you do for me but without me, you do against me.” That was the theme of a scientific forum on Wednesday titled, “Practicing equitable global health,” as part of SMFM’s 2021 Virtual Annual Meeting.

This article is on based on information presented at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine’s 2021 Virtual Annual Meeting, which is being held now through Jan. 30.

For more information and registration details, visit SMFM.org.

On Wednesday, Jan. 27, experts presented “Whatever you do for me, you do against me: Practicing equitable global health,” a 2.5-hour scientific forum focused on establishing equitable global health partnerships. Chaired by Kelli Barbour, MD, MSc, MA, of Baylor College of Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology; and Adetola Louis-Jacques, MD, of the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine, the forum covered ways to reduce imbalances and strategies to fully engage partners from low-income countries.

Barbour is also a member of SMFM’s Global Health Committee, which is committed to improving the health of women and children in underserved international communities and resource-limited settings worldwide.

The forum included informative presentations by Doris Chou, MD of the World Health Organization (WHO); Chikondi N. Chiweza, MD of Baylor Malawi; Reem Sameer Abu-Rustum MD of the University of Florida; and Stephanie L. Gaw, MD, PhD, of University of California, San Francisco.

Chou began the presentation with WHO’s global targets and strategies for achieving equitable global health worldwide, which include providing universal health care and reducing maternal mortality. According to her presentation, customized initiatives are required to improve maternal health. Who is providing care (Assessing the competencies of skilled health personnel)? Within what context do women receive care (health systems, commodities, access)? Where do they receive care (Does being in a facility solve everything)? How to apply lessons learned (Evidence generation, routine documentation)?

“Investment and strategic implementation with a focus on equity will lead to progress,” Chou said.

Presentations expanded on several equitable global health partnerships, including women in Malawi, South Africa; Lebanon and Syria; and Brazil.

Chiweza is Deputy Site Director of the Area 25 Baylor Maternal Health Project, a partnership between Baylor and the Malawi Ministry of Health in South Africa. The program provides a number of services, including high-risk obstetrics clinics and care, Freedom from Fistula Foundation and primary level neonatal care.

This program, Chiweza said, “has shown that it is possible for a partner to work together with the Ministry of Health in a country and increase the quality of care.”