CMNH presents at SNOGS conference, Liverpool

News article 11 Feb 2019

The Student Neonatal Obstetrics and Gynaecology Society (SNOGS) hosted their annual charity conference in the Liverpool Women’s Hospital on 19th January 2019. Titled "A Woman's World: Crisis and Conflict", the conference aimed to raise awareness of global women's health issues and present upcoming research in this area. The event raised money for two charities that support women: The Women's Charity and Women's Health Information and Support Centre.

The event covered themes of women's mental health, women's health in refugee and asylum seeker populations, maternal mortality, and gender-based violence. Hannah McCauley, Senior Research Associate and Dr Alexander Manu, Senior Clinical Research Associate from the Centre for Maternal and Newborn Health (CMNH) were invited to give interactive lectures to inspire the students, health professionals and global health researchers and help them to understand some of the health problems facing women today. 

Hannah McCauley spoke on gender-based violence (violence against women – particularly intimate partner violence and sexual violence). It is a major public health problem and a violation of women's human rights. Hannah presented the global and regional estimates published by World Health Organisation that indicate that about 1 in 3 (35%) of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. Most of this violence is intimate partner violence. Globally, as many as 38% of murders of women are committed by a male intimate partner. Recently CMNH published a qualitative study regarding intimate partner violence.

Hannah stated that “It is essential that gender-based violence is tackled as a public health issue and not a ‘private issue’, as violence can negatively affect women’s physical, mental, sexual, and reproductive health, including the health of their infants. As part of CMNH’s new Antenatal and Postnatal competency-based workshop, we teach healthcare providers in low- and middle-income countries to screen for Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). For many of them, this was the first time they had been taught how to screen for IPV and many of them started screening as a part of routine practice in their healthcare facilities straight away”.

Dr Alexander Manu’s talk was titled “That is why I will never come back here: mothers in crises at delivery points in low- and middle-income countries”. The focus was on the provision of women-centred care at health facilities. Dr Manu bemoaned the low coverage and poor quality of care around the time of birth in particular. He said, "Women in health facilities face a crisis situation because most care providers in maternity and newborn units tend to be women and this, subconsciously, evokes a lot of expectations of empathy from women who come to facilities. Instead, they are sometimes met with abuses and care that robs them of every dignity at the time they leave the facility. He charged the students that, as leaders of tomorrow, they should always be conscious of this expectation of women as they provide care to them and always strive to make the difference in the quality of care mothers and their newborns experience under their care in the future."