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Officers’ update, November 2014

Paul Fogarty, Senior Vice President for Global Health, writes...

On 24 October, we celebrated the first-year anniversary of the launch of the Global Health Strategy. It has been a busy 12 months of starting new projects and programmes of activity, all with a focus on improving women’s health care globally.

We now have our first RCOG/Marcus Filshie Fellow based at Kitovu Hospital, Uganda. Dr Sandra McNeill arrived in October and she is backfilling for a position left vacant by an obstetrician/gynaecologist who has travelled to the Hamlin Hospital in Ethiopia for training in fistula surgery.

Our joint vision with Kitovu is to expand and develop their women’s health services which will include building on their excellent fistula camps to provide a more permanent service to women who suffer from the condition.

Closer to home, we have established an excellent partnership with our colleagues at the Royal College of Surgeons and together we have now run four successful STAE training courses (Surgical Training in the Austere Environment) for surgeons on the UK Trauma Register who will be deployed to disaster areas and war zones. The O&G session provides quality emergency obstetric and gynaecological training tailored to be effective where there is little equipment or infrastructure. Attendees have included volunteers with the British Red Cross and Médecins Sans Frontières.

This year, I am delighted that our relationship with our International Representative Committees and Liaison Groups has come to the forefront of our work. They are vital to the process of furthering our work internationally in all aspects of healthcare and training. Over the last year, we have worked with them all and from this we launched a handbook of guidance for both groups on how we can best work together. I would like to give a special mention to our Indian colleagues who did a superb job in organising the RCOG’s most successful Congress in Hyderabad in March.

Our MTI scheme, which provides UK hospital placements for international doctors, continues to expand and a number of developments have been made in 2014 to streamline the process and add more quality assurance to ensure the scheme attracts the best doctors from around the world. Applications for 2015 open on 21 November.

This year has also seen the creation of our Global Health Toolkits. We understand that there is a great interest around the world in our area of expertise and these toolkits are step-by-step guides created by an expert faculty of contributors to develop education programmes, training and standard-setting which can be tailored to any location. We must pilot the toolkits as far and wide as possible to be sure they can be effective around the world. If you can help us, please contact the Global Health team and let us know. 

We recently held a meeting with the Deputy Minister of Health from Iraq during which we signed an MoU to share skills, knowledge and expertise across our two countries and we are looking forward to jointly developing training and guideline adaptation workshops for our Iraqi colleagues in O&G.

Our latest project is the development of an Essential Gynaecological Skills course for low-resource countries. This will provide emergency gynaecological skills training for health workers and will cover areas such as contraception, acute gynaecological emergencies, infertility, menstrual dysfunction and STIs. We will require the faculty to help pilot and roll out the course in low-resource settings in 2015.

As we move into year two, we will have more and more opportunities for you to become involved in global health work, both overseas and here in the UK. Activity can include: applying for Fellowships, writing for International News, volunteering to help with UK-based events, becoming part of our global health faculty and mentoring trainees who are volunteering overseas.

We also continue to welcome new project ideas from all over the world. If you are already involved in a project or just have an idea, we may be able to help you scale it up or make it a reality. If you are interested, please contact us and let us know a bit about your background and your main areas of interest: globalhealthinfo@rcog.org.uk.

Next year promises to be a busy year for the RCOG. I am very much looking forward to meeting with you all at the RCOG World Congress in Brisbane in March where we may share our ideas about improving health care for women globally. It is also a poignant year for global health, as the world recognises the deadline of the Millennium Development Goals. Sadly, many countries will not achieve their goals in maternal and infant mortality. I am immensely proud of the College and what our Members have achieved so far, but it is clear that there is still so much more we can and must do.