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Making a difference

The Global Health Unit aims to contribute to the international body of research on global health in obstetrics and gynaecology while developing greater interest within the departments and university.  

Several exciting projects underway:

Accessing safe deliveries in Tanzania (ASDIT)

Dr. John LeBlanc leads the “Accessing safe deliveries in Tanzania (ASDIT)” project with an overarching goal to reduce maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality in Tanzania. The project aims to identify the requirements of scaling up Comprehensive Emergency Obstetrical and Newborn Care (CEMONC) in Tanzania by studying its implementation in selected health centres. The Dalhousie research team comprises Dr. John LeBlanc, Dr. Heather Scott, Dr. Ron George, Dr. Doug McMillan and Shawna O’Hearn.

For more information, contact Dr. John LeBlanc (john.leblanc@dal.ca)

Global women's health education in Canadian obstetrics and gynaecology residency programs: A survey of program directors and senior residents

In the field of obstetrics and gynaecology, little is known about global health education and interest within residency programs. An online survey was administered to program directors and senior residents across Canada to determine 1) current global health teaching and support; 2) the importance of global health to residents and program directors; and 3) the level of interest in a national postgraduate global women's health curriculum. The results show that ObGyn senior residents and program directors feel that global health education is important for all trainees and is currently insufficient. There is a high level of interest in a national postgraduate global women's health curriculum. Our research team consists of Heather Millar (University of Toronto), Elizabeth Randle (Dalhousie University), Heather Scott (Dalhousie University), Dorothy Shaw (University of British Columbia), Nancy Kent (University of British Columbia), Amy Nakajima (University of Ottawa), and Rachel Spitzer (University of Toronto).

For more information, contact Dr. Elizabeth Randle (el484469@dal.ca)

A maternal device for the prevention of stillbirth and low birth-weight

Dalhousie medical student Allan Kember has been awarded a Grand Challenges Canada Stars in Global Health grant to pursue research into the prevention of stillbirth and low birth weight. Every year, approximately 2.6 million stillbirths (SB) occur and 20 million low birth-weight (LBW) babies are born worldwide. The vast majority of these cases occur in low- and middle-income countries. Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rate of SB globally and has made the least progress in reducing this number. Similarly, this region has some of the highest rates of LBW in the world. Recently, several studies have identified sleeping on the back during pregnancy as a potential risk factor for having SB or LBW baby. This is a significant correlation, since the majority of 2nd and 3rd trimester pregnant women spend up to 25% of their sleeping time on their back.

Allan and his team from GIRHL, through the support of ICChange, will test a simple, low-cost, and easy-to-implement device that can mitigate this risk factor, which may be one of the keys to enabling an unprecedented reduction in the global burden of SB and LBW. The device, called PrenaBelt, is designed specifically for use by pregnant women while sleeping. The PrenaBelt causes subtle pressure points when a pregnant woman rolls onto her back. These pressure points activate the body’s natural response to spontaneously relieve this pressure by changing position to her side. This approach is known as "positional therapy" and is comonly used in the practice of sleep medicine.  Allan Kember's Dalhousie Research in Medicine project, supervised by Dr. Heather Scott, will test this device in Ghana.

For more information, contact Allan Kember (kember@girhl.org) or visit the Prenabelt ProjectPrenaBelt Team , or visit Grand Challenges