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 the health struggles that woman face globally and present upcoming research in this area. The day was a sell-out, with students from LSTM, University of Liverpool and healthcare workers from Liverpool Women’s Hospital all in attendance, raising money for two charities that support women: The Women's Charity and Women's Health Information and Support Centre (WHISC).
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."
Caitlin Lythgoe is an intercalating medical student currently studying International Public Health (Sexual and Reproductive) at LSTM. She is currently the president of SNOGS, the University of Liverpool Obstetrics and Gynaecology Society.
"The conference was a chance for likeminded people to come together and discuss issues in global women’s health along with the latest research in the field. The day was not only a success in terms of raising money for two fantastic charities but also for creating future research opportunities as professionals from different backgrounds had the chance to share ideas with each other. Although the conference presented issues in women’s health globally, the overarching theme of the day was hope. The speakers demonstrated how research and innovation can make a huge difference to vulnerable populations, which inspired many to think of how this could be applied in their own context. This is what I have experienced as a student at LSTM and I am glad I could share this with other medical students, midwives, nurses and doctors."