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University of Aberdeen Obstetrics and Gynaecology Society’s Natalie Cameron reports on their recent Maternal and Newborn Health seminar:

The University of Aberdeen Obstetrics and Gynaecology (O&G) Society were delighted to welcome Professor Wendy Graham (Chief Scientific Adviser) and Lucy Singh (Soapbox Ambassador) from The Soapbox Collaborative to the medical school on the 31st of October this year. Our society aims to raise awareness about women’s health and promote O&G as a speciality. Global Maternal and Newborn Health is a topic close to many of our hearts, and this event aimed to give students an introduction to current issues in the field.

Professor Graham presented an intriguing talk titled: ‘Leaving No One Behind: Clean Birth for Every Mother & Newborn’. Students were walked through the changing demographics of childbirth, and the “perfect storm” of factors that are contributing to maternal and neonatal infections, including increases in institutional birth rates in unprepared facilities, increasing antimicrobial resistance and poor sanitation and hygiene linked to poor training and inadequate water supplies. We learned that there are many (often surprisingly simple) ways to tackle these ultimately preventable infections and the associated morbidity and mortality.

Additionally, as The Soapbox Collaborative is one of our chosen partners for our fundraising activities this year, Lucy Singh gave us an overview of Soapbox’s current activities and the work she’s completed as a Soapbox Ambassador. Her project on yearly trends in births and how this affects overcrowding in maternity facilities, such as in Felege Hiwot Hospital in Ethiopia, was fascinating. Her talk inspired many questions from students considering doing similar work in their electives in the future, and along with discussion from Professor Graham’s talk, it was clear that the students were really interested and engaged!

We were honoured to be invited to vote on how the funds we raise this year could be used for resources and projects Soapbox are running. We elected for funds to go towards “Clean Boxes” which provide all the materials and resources needed for training maternity unit cleaning staff in IPC and environmental hygiene – thank you for including us in this decision and we look forward to hearing more about the project!

We would like to extend our sincere thanks to both Professor Graham and Lucy – we received some brilliant feedback from attendees wanting to find out more, and we hope that this will have inspired the students present to think more about Global Health and the great work Soapbox are doing. We are always thankful to learn about Soapbox’s projects and to be part of the journey in any way we can!

Natalie Cameron, Vice-President