More restrictions regarding reproductive health care and limited information in Catholic-based hospitals

More restrictions regarding reproductive health care and limited information in Catholic-based hospitals

Story by Suzanna Larkin, T'21; Alex Lichtl, T'19 A recent report published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology examined the impact of Catholic religious guidelines on the reproductive health outcomes of patients. The report found that compared to other settings, Catholic health care facilities provide less information regarding reproductive health issues. Out of 27 different studies describing reproductive health services at Catholic health facilities, only one also reported patient outcomes. Most studies found that compared to non-Catholic hospitals, Catholic facilities were less likely to provide family planning services or did not provide them at all. Under the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, the sanctity of marriage is stressed and intercourse is seen as a form of ‘life giving’ with life beginning at conception. As a result, reproductive health care is often only used to treat other medical conditions and in some cases, contraception is inhibited even in cases of rape. For instance, instead of IUDs and tubal ligation, patients may...
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Baby born in Brazil from a deceased donor’s uterus transplant

Baby born in Brazil from a deceased donor’s uterus transplant

Story by Suzanna Larkin, T '21 & Alex Lichtl, T'19 Doctors then waited seven months to ensure that the patient’s body wouldn’t reject the uterus before implanting the woman with her own egg. Ten days after implantation, pregnancy was confirmed and a baby girl was successfully born at 35 weeks and three days. The baby was delivered through a cesarean-hysterectomy operation, meaning that the transplanted uterus was removed after delivery. In a medical first, a child was born from a uterus transplanted from a deceased donor. A team of transplant doctors under Dr. Dani Ejzenberg at the University of Sao Paulo School of Medicine successfully transplanted the uterus from a 45-year-old mother of three who died from stroke to a woman in her thirties who had been born without a uterus. Although eleven births using transplanted wombs from live donors have been successful in the past, all other transplant attempts using deceased donors have failed, including one done in the U.S. Cleveland...
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Learning about Global Mental Health, and Teamwork, in Haiti

Blogpost by Alex Lichtl, T'19 During the summer of 2017 I traveled to Léogane, Haiti where I, and a team of student researchers, spent two months collecting data on women’s stressors in the community through a Duke SRT program. As a team, we had very little global health research experience, but after one week of orientation we were left on our own to recruit community leaders for interviews and organize focus groups for a project entitled "Mental and Reproductive Health Interventions for Haitian Women: Adapting strategies from community input on coping with stress." At first we were extremely lost, but with the help of our translator team and a lot of perseverance, we managed to reach our data collection goal. We were also fortunate because the women and men we worked with in the community were incredibly welcoming and open to sharing their life experiences regarding reproductive health. Overall, we asked women and men in the community about women’s stressors and coping...
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Duke alum who founded Myna Mahila Foundation (aims to improve equal access to menstrual hygiene products in India) chosen as one of seven charities to receive donations from Royal wedding

Duke alum who founded Myna Mahila Foundation (aims to improve equal access to menstrual hygiene products in India) chosen as one of seven charities to receive donations from Royal wedding

Post by Amelia Steinbach, T'21 Suhani Jalota, Duke University Class of 2016, was recently recognized on an international level for her work to increase menstrual hygiene access and equity in India. She recently founded the Myna Mahila Foundation in Mumbai, India, which was then selected by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle as one of seven charities to receive donations from their Royal Wedding in May 2018. The Myna Mahila Foundation was created as Suhani Jalota, originally from Mumbai herself, tried to address the severe problems affecting poor women in India who could not afford sanitary products. The foundation hires women to produce high-quality and low-cost products in order to ensure that women of lower SES can still participate in society during their menstrual cycles. She credits her experiences at Duke, particularly her participation in the Baldwin Scholars Program and the Melissa & Doug Entrepreneurship program. She is currently a Knight-Hennessey Scholar at Stanford University, but continues to serve as the CEO of...
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Law meant to limit access to abortion in the Ohio state legislature

Law meant to limit access to abortion in the Ohio state legislature

Story by Amelia Steinbach, T '21 State legislators in Ohio are currently debating House Bill 565, a piece of proposed legislation that imposes strict limitations on access to abortion. The law changes the definition of person to include “any unborn human,” which results in the criminalization of abortion. If the law is signed into law, it would effectively criminalize abortion. Any woman who undergoes the procedure, as well as any doctor who performs it, would face charges for murder. Because the death penalty is permitted in the state of Ohio, women and doctors could also be sentenced to death because of their role in the procedure. Despite the fact that many modern abortion regulations include exemptions of pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, as well as those that pose a threat to the pregnant woman’s life, House Bill 565 includes no such provisions. Notably, the group of legislators sponsoring and co-sponsoring the bill is overwhelmingly male, with only two out of sixteen...
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Community Impacts of Maternal Child Health Care in Kigali, Rwanda

Community Impacts of Maternal Child Health Care in Kigali, Rwanda

Guest Blog by Suzanna Larkin, T21 The Iranzi Clinic is a pioneering medical clinic in Kigali, Rwanda that focuses entirely on maternal and child health services. As an intern through DukeEngage-Rwanda this past summer, I worked directly alongside the midwives, doctors, and administrative staff that have made Iranzi Clinic their home. Only opened one year ago, the clinic is situated on the edge of the impoverished Nyabisindu neighborhood. Many of the women who visit the clinic are unable to pay for their services, and thus the clinic relies primarily on support from the Christian Life Assembly Church and donors. The commitment that the midwives and staff hold for their patients and clinic is clear. Every Monday, the clinic has a devotions session followed by a tea time, and the scene is joyous­–any observer can notice the deep and genuine friendships that grew between the staff members as they built the clinic from the ground up. Their anecdotes about the clinic’s history, from...
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Oregon, a champion of women’s health, is one of states with abortion challenge on ballot

Oregon, a champion of women’s health, is one of states with abortion challenge on ballot

Guest Blog by Suzanna Larkin, T '21 Oregon, my home state, is a unique champion in women’s right to abortion. While more than 400 abortion restrictions have passed in 33 states in the past 7 years, Oregon remains a key state in support for reproductive health rights. It was the first state to allow pharmacists to prescribe birth control directly to women in 2015. More recently, Governor Kate Brown signed the Reproductive Health Equity Act in August 2017, which expands coverage of abortion and other reproductive health services to thousands of Oregonians by allocating nearly $500,000 of Oregon’s general fund to expand cost-free reproductive and abortion services for those who are ineligible for Medicaid. It also requires all private insurance companies to cover abortions for free. There is one caveat to this legislation: Providence Health Plan, a large health insurance provider in Oregon, is insurer exempt from providing abortion services—the only insurance provider in the state with an exemption. This is because...
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Embracing My Role as a Researcher – Sharing My Small Slice of the HPV Research Pie

Embracing My Role as a Researcher – Sharing My Small Slice of the HPV Research Pie

Guest Blog: Carissa Novak Throughout my recently completed Masters in Global Health Science, Duke’s Global Health Institute faculty regularly stressed the importance and potential impact of disseminating research findings. Therefore, I felt presenting the research findings from my thesis at the 32nd International Papillomavirus Conference inSydney, Australia, this fall was not only appropriate but necessary. Due to ongoing conversations regarding HPV vaccination coverage and HPV screening for cervical cancer communities are witnessing a tremendous increase in screening rates, especially in low-resource settings, where cervical cancer is most common. However, most programs still face significant challenges in addressing HPV positive women’s low rates of follow-up and treatment. My attendance at the conference was an opportunity to share the findings of my thesis work, in which we found that in western Kenya, a setting where resources were limited for all HPV positive women, stigma and isolation were the main differentiating features between women who accessed follow-up and those who did not. Interestingly, I presented...
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Partner Updates: Uganda

Partner Updates: Uganda

Our Ugandan colleagues at the Makerere College of Health Sciences have been busy over the past few months. Center members’ work has focused on various aspects of cervical cancer, from prevention to diagnosis and treatment. Dr. Miriam Nakalembe is still leading the NCI-funded effort to evaluate community-based strategies for cervical cancer detection, in partnership with Dr. Megan Huchko. Building on this work, she is a co-investigator on a recently funded two-year project through the Fogarty International Center. The grant seeks to develop a portable imaging technique, called a smartphone confocal endoscope. The new technology would visualize cellular details of human cervix in vivo without taking a biopsy, and after validation would be adapted to provide a low-cost diagnostic tool for other diseases in both resource poor and resource rich settings. Dr. Jane Namugga continues her work with Dr. Paula Lee. The pair have completed data collection for a project to determine rates of completion and adverse events associated with receiving chemotherapy...
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Director’s Blog: Fall 2018

A month into the start of the new school year is a good time to reflect on the value the Center can bring to an academic setting like Duke. More salient is the recognition of the value that students and learners bring to Center. This is my third semester teaching Global Sexual and Reproductive Health, one of the core Center courses. The undergraduates continue to impress me with the experience and passion they bring to the classroom, to their research assignments and to their lives in the Duke community. Every year, I learn new things and gain new perspective from the discussions and viewpoints in brought forth in the course. This year, I’m leading two additional student research initiatives in which I already recognize that I’ll learn much more than I will teach the students. I have been working with students through the Big Data for Reproductive Health project since May, when Amy Finnegan and I helped manage a Data Plus...
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