Key symposium is milestone for flagship centre

Key symposium is milestone for flagship centre

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The challenges of measuring women’s health will be the focus of discussion on Monday (May 9) and Tuesday (May 10) when international and UK experts gather for a major conference organised by a centre which has been carrying out leading research in that field for the last decade.

The Dugald Baird Centre for Research on Women’s Health (DBC) at the University of Aberdeen is much acclaimed for the work it is doing to improve the reproductive health and healthcare of women nationally and internationally, through the conduct and dissemination of high quality, multi-disciplinary research.

To mark its 10th anniversary, the DBC is hosting its Symposium on Women’s Health: Measurement Matters at the University’s King’s College Centre. Around 90 delegates will attend including researchers, health professionals and policy decision-makers. The meeting focuses on the importance of generating high quality information for policy and practice related to women’s health, and in particular on the role of research in improving the tools and processes for measurement.

Professor Wendy Graham, Director of the DBC, said: “This is a prestigious event for the University. It is also an excellent opportunity for us to showcase both our own research as well as work conducted by other groups, and to discuss research priorities for our second decade”.

Regarding key reproductive health issues in the UK, there will be reports of the evaluations of Healthy Respect, a national health demonstration project to improve teenage sexual health, and of delivery of maternity and neonatal services in remote and rural settings in Scotland. Nearer home, some of the health concerns identified by women in Grampian following a public consultation carried out by the DBC will also be unveiled by Dr Janet Tucker, Senior Researcher. This study has gathered the views of women aged 16 to 50, and its findings will help shape future DBC research.

Strategies to improve care during pregnancy and childbirth is another of the presentations to delegates. Globally over 300 million women suffer from ill health as a consequence of pregnancy and childbirth. Of the 529,000 maternal deaths that occur every year, 99% are in developing

countries. Dr Julia Hussein, Scientific Co-ordination Leader of the IMMPACT Project will discuss strategies which aim to reduce this toll.

One of the overseas speakers, Dr Affette McCaw-Binns, from the University of the West Indies, will discuss Measuring and improving the quality of maternal care in Jamaica.

The World Health Organization will also be represented at the event. Dr Paul Van Look, who heads WHO's Department of Reproductive Health and Research, will present A man's perspective to women's health at a special anniversary dinner being hosted on Monday night by Aberdeen's Lord Provost at the Town House.

The symposium is part of the 10th anniversary celebrations of the DBC which is responsible for a number of leading research projects over the years. These include:

· IMMPACT (Initiative for Maternal Mortality Programme Assessment) - a global research initiative whose ultimate goal is to improve maternal health and survival in developing countries.

· SAFE (Skilled Attendance for Everyone) - which provided new knowledge to increase the number of births where there is a skilled person on hand to help the mother if needed.

· Evaluating Healthy Respect – an in-depth assessment of the Scottish Executive’s demonstration project to improve sexual health for young people in Lothian.

· Maternity Care Matters - which was a Scottish Executive commissioned survey of women’s experiences of maternity services in Scotland.

Professor Graham added: "We have a lot to be proud of, including survival of the first ten years and in a climate of serious competition for research funds.

"We have a hard working team who look forward to continuing our high quality research which strives to benefit women in the Northern and Southern hemispheres."

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