‘Umbuntu: I am because we are’ – OBGYNs in East, Central and South Africa come together to inspire and be inspired

In October 2022, the first Community of Practice (COP) – a collaboration between the East, Central and Southern Africa College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ECSACOG) and FIGO’s Advocating for Safe Abortion Project – was organized in Rwanda.

The COP is made up of sexual reproductive health champions from 10 national OBGYN associations – Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique – who came together to share their clinical expertise and resources. exploit the extent of unsafe abortion in the region of East, Central and Southern Africa.

Dr. FIGO President-elect Anne Kihara (pictured in red jacket) speaks to representatives at the COP meeting about how to address preventable maternal mortality rates, access to safe abortion care and contraception in Africa:

Let’s make a pact – not baby steps, we need catalyzing, transformative change for Africa.

The partnership between ECSACOG and FIGO is a relationship to build important momentum to address preventable causes of maternal death and injury in our African region.

OBGYNs and health professionals have long been at the forefront of the fight against preventable maternal deaths and injuries, we’ve done this by sharing our insights and first hand evidence to show that this issue is not just a public health problem, but a preventable one social injustice that demands urgent attention. Our partnership is committed to advancing innovative solutions, strengthening our advocacy to strengthen health systems to better respond to the needs and rights of women and girls, including their right to access safe abortion care.

– Prof Bellington Vwalika, Secretary General, ECSACOG

While abortion care is legally permitted for five specific conditions in Rwanda, our healthcare data shows that access to safe abortion care can be increased through telemedicine and division of labour, helping to prevent maternal death and injury/disability as a result of unsafe abortion.

– dr. Eugene Ngoga, President, Rwandan Association of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

Dr. Mekdes Feyssa, Medical Officer of the World Health Organization (WHO) and member of ECSACOG, and Dr. Antonella Lavelanet, WHO Medical Officer, shared the updated guidelines for abortion care from WHO. COP participants discussed how to deliver WHO recommendations within their national context. The training of health professionals emerged as common areas for improvement in all member societies.

The COP meeting provided a fruitful opportunity for regional sexual and reproductive health leaders to share perspectives and ideas related to promoting comprehensive abortion services (photo: Dr. Swebby Macha, Zambia, Dr. Eugene Ngoga, Rwanda, Dr. John Muganda, Rwanda, Dr. Guyo Jaldea, Kenya, Prof. Bellington Vwalika, Zambia).

Dr. Garang Dakur of the Association of Gynecologists and Obstetricians of South Sudan (AGOSS) explained the challenges they face as a new society in a country with one of the highest maternal mortality rates (789 per 100,000 live births) in the world. He highlighted cultural beliefs as a major obstacle to providing sexual reproductive health (pictured, left to right: Dr. Garang Dakur and Dr. Carolye Atieno).

Dr. Simon Peter Kayondo of the Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Uganda (AOGU) shared on the need for effective strategies to enable health systems to better respond to the preventable pandemic of deaths from unsafe abortion: “You can’t keep mopping the floor when the taps are stopped. run.”

The COP served as an inspiring environment to share solutions and resources with the 10 member associations. Dr. Anne Kihara, President-elect of FIGO, shared the importance of providing value clarification and attitude transformation (VCAT) training to influence and change the hearts and minds of midwives and health professionals so they can advocate for safe abortion care. Members of the Zambia Association of Gynecologists & Obstetricians (ZAGO) offered their expertise in using media for safe abortion advocacy and South Sudan shared the need to engage in regional advocacy on the draft sexual and reproductive health law of the East African Community (2021). (In the photo, from left to right: Dr. Swebby Macha, Zambia, Dr. Anne Kihara, Kenya, Dr. Moses Maror, South Sudan).

‘Umbuntu: I am because we are’ – OBGYNs in East, Central and South Africa come together to inspire and be inspired

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