Maternal health policy and procedures to come under spotlight

Maternal health policy and procedures to come under spotlight

International policymakers, health professionals and researchers will gather in London next week for a key conference which will explore safety surrounding maternal health care and its policies.

The Biomedical Knowledge, Culture, Safety and Maternal Health Policy: International Perspectives one day symposium is taking place in London on June 18 and is chaired by Dr Edwin van Teijlingen from the University of Aberdeen.

Leading speakers from universities in London, Canada, America and Finland and the National Childbirth Trust are involved in the event which has been organised by the Birth, Culture and Society International Study Group.

The Foundation for the Sociology of Health and Illness is helping fund the event which will examine a range of areas which include the numbers of caesarean sections taking place in industrialised countries; factors linked to women's satisfaction with their maternity care providers, and safety and maternal health policy in the UK.

Dr van Teijlingen, who specialises in the organisation of maternity care and is Reader within the University's Department of Public Health, said: "Currently in the UK there is considerable debate about the safety and quality of maternity services reflected in ongoing reviews by the independent think tank the King's Fund and the Healthcare Commission.

"There is range of views around what is a safe and desirable place of birth.  Childbirth interventions such as caesarean section are increasingly challenged by many in society.

"Increasingly we rely on so-called evidence when making maternity care policy and organising practice, but sociologists ask the question 'Whose evidence is it?'  In whose interest are policies formulated and guidelines produced?'     

"Groups in society help shape the evidence informing such policies.  There has not been enough study on how global childbirth politics works and how professionals fit into that picture.

"Furthermore, there has been little exploration of the relationship between culture and constructions of risk and safety in relation to the shaping of maternal health policy, and even less interface between policymakers, professionals and researchers.  Why are notions of safety differently interpreted in the UK than in the Netherlands or the Canada? 

"This unique symposium is an opportunity for participants to discuss key issues in maternal health policy drawing on a social and political sciences perspective.

"With the growth of evidence based health care, use for example in clinical and policy guidelines, we need to explore how this evidence is created, shaped and explored by people."

The symposium takes place at King's College in London.

 

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