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home Publications Blog Guest Blog — Improving Childbirth Safety


Guest Blog — Improving Childbirth Safety

August 18, 2016

Guest blog by Dr. Chris Payne

Dr. Chris Payne is Board Vice Chair for Worldwide Fistula Fund and regularly makes trips to Danja Fistula Center and Mekelle, Ethiopia to provide treatment and training. Dr. Payne co-founded Vista Urology and Pelvic Pain Partners in San Jose, CA where he focuses on incontinence, pelvic pain and pelvic reconstructive surgery.

Dr. Paynes’ Trip to Educate a new Generation of African Doctors

Improving birth outcomes by optimizing pregnancy, reducing pregnancy complications, and delivering at the appropriate time can improve lifelong health for the mother and child.

Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA, 2016)

I came across the above quote in an editorial entitled, “Improving Birth Outcomes Key to Improving Global Health”. Of course, these studies are mostly performed in developed nations, focusing on reducing inappropriate C-sections. What a contrast we find in the developing world. The women served by WFF are fortunate to have access to even basic prenatal care. They place their lives at risk just by becoming pregnant and anticipating the natural labor process. Should they develop obstructed labor, access to a life-saving C-section will be many
hours and miles away, if available at all.

Currently, there are few opportunities for surgeons to receive advanced OB-GYN training in Ethiopia.

Visiting Mekelle Medical School. Visiting faculty with the Mekelle Medical School leadership and residents

In addition to providing surgical care for women injured in childbirth, WFF is also addressing the broader issue of prevention. I recently returned from my June trip to Mekelle, Ethiopia where, with the help of a WFF grant, the medical school will graduate its first class of five resident doctors in Obstetrics & Gynecology in January 2017. Having met these fine young people, I can assure you that you will be proud to have supported their training. It is gratifying to know that these graduates will join the current OB-GYN faculty, which should have a great impact on medical student education in the near future. Ethiopia has made a huge commitment to increase the number of doctors, and the medical schools are full of students eager to learn.

Dr. Payne. Dr. Payne lecturing at Mekelle University

As part of the latest WFF project, Ethiopia’s first Urogynecology Fellowship Training Program has been established (in the United States there are more than 20 such fellowships). We created an intensive 3 day symposium covering a broad range of topics. Throughout the year, visiting surgical teams provide technical instruction in operations that are not commonly performed in Ethiopia. During the rest of the year, the fellows study and work on research projects. The fellows do all this in addition to their full time jobs. In the US, being a fellow is the full time job.

Dr. Melaku. Fellow, Dr. Melaku lecturing on the future of Gynecology training

We are fortunate to work with two outstanding surgeons — Fekade Ayenachew from Addis Ababa and Dr. Abriha Melaku from Mekelle. They are already two of the finest fistula surgeons in the world, yet, they want to keep expanding their skills to the full gamut of pelvic floor problems faced by women. They will be the fathers of Ethiopian Urogynecology. Moreover, this Urogynecology Fellowship Training Program has set a bar for advanced surgical training that will serve the country well.

The relatively few dollars that are spent in programs like this will have a huge impact on global health in years to come. Your support is greatly appreciated.