Improve key health systems to reduce caesarean section deaths

South African obstetrician and gynecologist Salome Maswime found that the key to reducing deaths from Caesarean section complications such as bleeding may be reducing health system shortcomings.

Maswime, who is Full Professor and Head of Global Surgery at the University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa, says she initially focused on obstetric surgery, but this has led to an interest in perinatal outcomes and now access to neonatal surgery.

“I initially speculated that the bleeding that occurred during a caesarean section could be resolved through new surgical techniques or by strengthening surgical training programs, but instead I found that the deficiencies in the healthcare system were the underlying cause,” he says.

In her 2019 article “Maternal and Neonatal Outcomes After Caesarean Delivery in the African Surgical Outcomes Study: A 7-Day Prospective Observational Cohort Study,” published in The Lancet Global Health Maswime, and a large number of collaborators in South Africa found that African women are 50 times more likely to die from cesarean complications than women in high-income countries.

“This further stated that the state of the health care system influences and determines surgical outcomes,” he says.

Maswime says he has a particular interest in accessing surgical care and corrective interventions, such as in babies born with congenital anomalies, and in understanding the proportion of those diagnosed during pregnancy versus those diagnosed alone. during and after childbirth.

“This also led to a partnership with Operation Smile, on research related to children with cleft lip and cleft palate,” he says.

Maswime grew up in Limpopo Province, South Africa, studying at the University of KwaZulu Natal in Durban, majoring at Wits University and then doing her doctorate in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

He pursued postdoctoral studies at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, with an interest in global health and placental science.

“Africans have often been the last to benefit from advances in science,” he says, “It is important to define our research agenda and guide our research programs and projects.”

Maswime says those in the global South are the hardest hit by the challenges they face, but they can also find solutions that are relevant and appropriate to that context.

“In our global surgery division, we say we are finding local solutions to a global challenge,” he says.

Another researcher from the South of the world who deals with the health of mothers and children is the Colombian Ana Palacios.

MORE FROM FORBESHow eggs can help children grow healthier in Honduras

Palacios is working on a clinical trial with a community in Honduras to find out whether feeding eggs to babies between the ages of 6 and 24 months will help them in terms of growth, food security and food diversity.

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