Press Releases

World Bank grant to train gynecologists in (Sub-Saharan) Africa travel to Ghana

Press Release: January 20, 2014

Contact: Renée Filius, Hylke Faber, Joyce Browne

Elevate Health and the University of Michigan are honored to have received a World Bank grant to develop on a pilot project for the 1000+OBGYN consortium. The 1000+OBGYN consortium is an initiative to reduce maternal and neonatal morbidity by training 1000 new obstetricians and gynecologists in Sub-Saharan Africa. Elevate will facilitate the development of the online course about “Hypertensive disorders in pregnancy.

The 1000+OBGYN consortium will be kick-started at the "Building Academic Partnerships to train 1000+ OBGYNs in sub-Saharan Africa" conference in Accra, Ghana from February 12-14, 2014.

Representatives from Elevate Health will join this meeting to explore how we can continue to contribute to the education offered within this consortium. This meeting is jointly hosted by Dr Frank Anderson from the University of Michigan’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Dr Kwabena Danso from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science University in Ghana; and generously funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Flora Family Foundation.

The consortium will bring together OBGYNs from academic institutions in both high and low resource countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, along with professional support organizations, policy makers, and funders to discuss ways to increase obstetric capacity in sub-Saharan Africa.  We will explore ways of creating or improving mutually beneficial academic partnerships to increase post-graduate training in OBGYN.

Elevate is grateful and honored to be able to contribute to this project and to be a part of the effort to reduce maternal and neonatal morbidity in Sub-Saharan Africa.

New book focuses on international partnerships to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality

A new book by Dr. Frank Anderson, Associate Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology, University of Michigan Medical School, captures the compelling ideas, stories, and knowledge shared by international maternal health specialists who gathered during the 2012 meeting of the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) in Rome, Italy slightly more than a year ago.

Dr. Anderson received a Flora Foundation planning grant to improve maternal health and reduce maternal mortality through training obstetricians. Using lessons learned from other partnerships within his department and his long-term relationships with his own international collaborators, he used the award to convene several national leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and the US, all intent on discussing ways to increase professional OBGYN capacity as a means to improving maternal health in the SSA region. Held concurrent with the FIGO World Congress, this gathering opened the first-ever dialogue among African OBGYNs on ways to improve maternity care by improving specialist-level obstetric care capacity. OBGYN leaders from 10 SSA countries (The Gambia, Cameroon, Liberia, Zambia, Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, Rwanda, Ghana, and Ethiopia) and representatives from OBGYN departments of nine North American universities participated.

Building Academic Partnerships to Reduce Maternal Morbidity and Mortality:  A Call To Action and Way Forward
Proceedings of the Public Health Impact of Training Physicians to Become Obstetricians Conference

Book description taken from 
"This book presents the collective wisdom of a group of Obstetrician/Gynecologists (OB/GYNs) from around the world brought together at the 2012 meeting of the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) to contribute their ideas and expertise in an effort to reduce maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality and obstetric fistula in sub Saharan Africa (SSA). The discussions focused on how to increase human capacity in the field of obstetrics and gynecology. The meeting was hosted by the University of Michigan Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Global Initiatives program and was supported through a grant from the Flora Family Foundation. Within the pages of this document, the current status of women’s health and OB/GYN training programs in 10 sub-Saharan African countries are described, with a Call to Action and Way Forward to training new OBGYNs in country. These are the words of obstetricians in the field, some who work as lone faculty in fledgling OB/GYN departments. These committed people are charged with the task of not only teaching the next generation, but may be the only OBGYN per 500,000 population or more. Their tireless pursuits are recognized, and their yearning for collegial support is palpable. Every country should have a cadre of highly trained OB/GYNs to teach the next generation, contribute to policy development and advocate for progressive legislation, conduct the research needed to solve local clinical problems, and contribute to the field of women’s health in general. But most of all, it must be recognized that women across the globe have the right to access a full scope and high quality obstetrical and gynecological care when and where they need it. These pages bring to light successes achieved and shared, and lessons learned that have already spurred new programs and given hope to those eager for a new way forward."

Download materials from Open.Michigan here.

Purchase book from here.

Travel to Ghana

Press Release: May 2, 2010

U-M delegation travels to Ghana to witness impact of health mission

Media contact: Margarita Wagerson
Phone: 734-764-2220

Efforts to curb maternal mortality rates are a key aspect of the mission to Ghana

ANN ARBOR, Mich.— Giving birth -- while a momentous occasion -- is not generally a life-threatening event for a mother in the United States.

That’s not the case in the rest of the world. More than 342,000 women worldwide died in 2008 from pregnancy or childbirth – a rate that’s decreased from 526,000 in 1980, according to a study released this month funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

But the new rates still are unacceptably high, experts say.

High maternal mortality rates are the reason the University of Michigan Health System became engaged in a health initiative in Ghana more than 20 years ago.

According to UNICEF, the annual maternal mortality ratio in Ghana in 2008 was 450 deaths per 100,000 live births, compared to 8 in the U.S.

While the program is growing in many other disciplines, its main goal still lies squarely in reducing maternal deaths, says Timothy R. B. Johnson, M.D., chair of the University of Michigan Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the program’s founder.

“Our main goal is to reduce the maternal mortality rate,” says Johnson.

The program will be the subject of a trip next week for faculty, alumni and community members – the first trip of its kind. The group will travel there May 1 to 9 and will visit teaching hospitals, medical schools, government agencies, as well as meet with students, residents, post-graduates and faculty.

“We want to show the group the depth and breadth of Michigan’s involvement in health education in Ghana,” Johnson says.

One of those partnerships is with the Ghana Postgraduate Training Program in Obstetrics and Gynecology. The five-year residency program was created in 1989 with the purpose of training Ghanaian medical students to become OB/GYN physicians.

Medical students in Ghana work in conjunction with the Safe Motherhood Initiative, which was created to help Ghanaian women with complications during pregnancy and childbirth.

Johnson, who has been traveling to Ghana since the 1980s and has visited there over 30 times, has spearheaded a physician education effort that now includes specialty training at the University of Ghana Medical School and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.

Since 2004, up to four students have been exchanged between the University of Michigan Medical School and the two schools in Ghana. In 2008, 12 medical students a year from both schools began to do senior clerkships in Michigan. Over 60 Ghanaian students have been trained in Ghana, with nearly all of them opting to remain in the country after completing their residencies.e

The initiative began in 1986 after the Carnegie Corporation invested funds there in an effort to build international medical capacity and improve maternal medicine.

Multiple organizations, including the Carnegie Corporation, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Ghana Management Committee, and the University of Michigan, established specialty training programs in Ghanain the mid-80s to improve health conditions there.

Another of the health initiative’s goal is to raise educational standards in Ghana and implement a better system of teaching.

“Medicine in Ghana, even though it’s very different, it’s still good medicine,” Johnson says. “However, their education system needs to catch up to ours. In Ghana, we’re trying to change the old system of trying to fail as many students as possible, to a current system where we hold teachers more accountable for the mistakes that are made.”

Other areas that need to be improved include pediatrics, family medicine and urology, he adds. Johnson believes bringing visitors to Ghana will expose them to conditions they may not be familiar with.

“You see diseases you’d never see here, consequences of lack of resources, mothers dying every day from childbirth, women dying from illegal abortions, pediatric cancers advanced to a stage you’d never see here,” Johnson adds. “People come back with a different view of the world.”

Bringing visitors on this trip will help show the improvements in health care that have resulted from U-M’s work and generate interest in future projects.

“(U-M President) Mary Sue Coleman went to Ghana with us two years ago and described her trip as a transformative experience,” says Jennifer Edwards, U-M Children’s and Women’s Health Senior Gift Officer. “We want to get people excited about our efforts, to see the partnerships we’ve formed with the people of Ghana.”

U-M alumni and other community members that will travel to Ghana are paying their own way. Many are participating because they are interested in learning more about U-M’s commitment and impact on global and women's health.

“We reached out to some of them, while others volunteered to participate in this experience,” Edwards says. “We’re trying to recruit ambassadors in the hopes that their passionate testimonies will help break new ground. Developing networks can help us meet our objective of growing this program.”

Johnson hopes that increased enthusiasm about the project will lead to more funding for endeavors in Ghana.

“Our goal is to develop an endowment so exchanges can be permanent,” he says. “If we get an endowment, we can keep sending medical students from the U.S. to Ghana on a regular basis and continue to build the program.”

University of Michigan delegation visits University of Ghana

Update from the University of Ghana Website: May 20, 2010

A delegation from the University of Michigan (U-M), which included members of the University’s Board of Regents, Faculty and Friends, recently visited the University of Ghana (UG) to learn at first hand about UM's work in Ghana and also to identify new partnership opportunities.

The nine-member delegation was led by Prof. Joseph C. Kolars, Professor of Medicine and Senior Associate Dean for Education and Global Initiatives. It included Rebecca McGowan, Regent Emerita, Jennifer A. H. Edwards Office of Medical Development and Alumni Relations, Edward B. Goldman, Associate Professor of Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Dr. Kofi Gyan, Director of U-M Programmes in Ghana, amongst others.

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