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A focus on the Pacific

01 June 2020




Last week, RANZCOG successfully hosted a webinar looking at COVID-19 and O&G in the Pacific.

The webinar, attended by over 70 Pacific O&G specialists, trainees, midwives and other health professionals working in women’s health in the Pacific, was the first in a series scheduled by RANZCOG, with the support of the Pacific Society for Reproductive Health and the Pacific Community.

Fellow Dr Rebecca Mitchell started off the session, providing background on the virus, its spread across the world, and its impact on pregnancy.

Dr Mitchell then spoke about Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) in Pregnancy: A guide for resource-limited environments. This resource, developed by the RANZCOG Global Health Committee, was launched in March at the height of the global pandemic and is dedicated for the Pacific O&G workforce to help them in the management and care of pregnant women with COVID-19.

Dr Pulane Tlebere, Sexual and Reproductive Health Technical Advisor with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Pacific Sub-Regional Office, together with Catherine Breen Kamkong, Regional Advisor for Sexual and Reproductive Health with UNFPA’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok, told viewers that while health outbreaks are inevitable, this should not necessarily result in catastrophic losses for sexual and reproductive health.

“By using the learnings from prior epidemics, putting in place critical resources and systems, and ensuring provision of essential sexual and reproductive health services, we can prevent health system disruptions that would have devastating and lasting effects on the individuals, families, and the Pacific community,” they said.

Professor Glen Mola, Head of the Department of O&G at the University of Papua New Guinea School of Medicine and Health Sciences, told webinar viewers that the Pacific had some of the least COVID-19 case numbers in the world “but many people have died and sustained significant morbidity because of fear of this infection”.

“Professional leaders must recognise the fear and address it collectively as well as individually,” he said.

One of Professor Mola’s takeaway messages was the advice to integrate all the COVID-19 health precautions “into your practice – but keep practising maternal and newborn care”. “Midwifery and O&G must go on, otherwise mothers and newborns will die – not because of COVID-19 infection, but from fear stopping us from providing the care that women need,” Professor Mola said.

A recording of the webinar will be made available soon.



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