The second Global Women’s Health Conference, held in Birmingham on November 1st, highlighted the work that still needs to be done to reduce maternal mortality. Prof Wendy Graham from the University of Aberdeen opened the conference outlining the progress to date but reminding us that there was much still to do. Her hard hitting presentation showed the unacceptable conditions of birthing rooms in many countries. She urged the audience to remember that “we do not want universal health care of poor quality.”
This was followed by a short film produced by BU Visiting Professor Gwyneth Lewis, which tells the story of Mrs X and why she died in childbirth.
A number of presenters highlighted hospital conditions and disrespectful staff as a disincentive for women in seeking facility birth. However, Rachel Arnold, PhD student in CMMPH, reminded the audience that the carers were women too. She noted that it is all too easy to blame health care professionals, forgetting the challenging conditions that they have to work in. In her excellent and moving presentation Rachel presented quotes from midwives and doctors in Afghanistan that brought a number of audience members to tears.
BU Prof Vanora Hundley presented work from Pakistan evaluating a decision tool to support policy makers and programme managers who are considering the potential role of clean birth kits in their strategy for care at birth.
While PhD student Sheetal Sharma’s poster presentation Getting women to care in Nepal: A Difference in Difference analysis of a health promotion intervention stole the day winning best poster prize. Sheetal has a unique international supervisory team led by BU and her PhD is supported by Bournemouth University with a studentship and a Santander grant.
The event was also an opportunity to publicise next year’s international conference on Midwifery and the post-MDG agenda, which will be held at Bournemouth University.