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Key Points From the 31st World Congress Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynaecology

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The 31st World Congress in Obstetrics and Gynaecology was held online in October of 2021 by ISUOG (International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynaecology). The organisation supports and represents ultrasonographers, obstetricians, gynaecologists, midwives, and other maternal-foetal professionals worldwide. To disseminate ground-breaking research in the field of obstetrics and gynaecology, the annual world congress offers keynote lectures, masterclasses, and workshops. With that in mind, here are some key points from the closing session.

Notes on the Closing Session

In the closing session of the 31st World Congress Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, various international experts appeared to give the key takeaways. They discussed some especially relevant topics surrounding the health consequences of COVID-19 on women. The speakers were Allison Bryant, Aris Papageorghiou, Christoph Lees, Liona Poon, and the talk was chaired by Professor Tom Bourne. 

The panellists considered what could be learnt from the past two years to better serve women who have–or have had–COVID-19, or have had their health impacted as a result of the pandemic in other ways. 

Health Consequences of COVID-19 for Women

In opening, Tom Bourne noted that whilst COVID-19 had high mortality for men, the impact may have been greater for women for many reasons, not least because many women are often in more precarious positions financially. Because of COVID-19, women have often been pushed into unpaid care work; there are issues around increased domestic violence, access to HRT, contraception, the impact of COVID-19 on pregnancy, and vaccines. 

Liona Poon – Chinese University of Hong Kong

Clinical Professor Liona Poon has noticed the impact of the pandemic on women’s mental health. They have concerns about their safety, the public health measures, hospital restrictions during childbirth, financial stability, getting the support they need from their partners and family, and more. These concerns led to higher levels of depression and anxiety. In Hong Kong specifically, the concerns were largely related to the government’s response to the pandemic leaving the public mistrustful of them. In 2022, Poon hopes to engage with patient advocacy groups to address mental health issues and make more complex information understandable to the affected women.

Christoph Lees – Imperial College of London

Professor of obstetrics, Christoph Lees highlighted the importance of knowledge and data. Without embracing the newest methods of getting and sharing data and knowledge, dispelling myths is incredibly difficult. As a result, false stories and myths have spread rampantly. Lees believed that the medical community has largely been passive in this regard. By harnessing the power of social media, big data, and advocating responsibly, we can dispel myths. We can collaborate more efficiently and successfully to assist patients through better communication. 

Allison Bryant – Massachusetts General Hospital & Harvard

As a specialist in the Maternal-Foetal Medicine Program, the social aspect of COVID-19 in the US has become an especially poignant one for Allison Bryant. Bryant is concerned about the influence and legacy of structural racism as she has noticed the effect of the pandemic on marginalised communities. Communities with less access to health care, work and educational opportunities, economic status, health literacy, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment have suffered deeply. It makes sense to fold in issues like access to food, housing, childcare, and transport with a view towards equity. To better aid communities in dealing with the pandemic, Bryant advocates for social support, better primary science education, to address structural racism.

Aris Papageorghiou – St George’s Hospital in London & Oxford University

Aris Papageorghiou is the Professor of Foetal Medicine and Director of Research of the Oxford Maternal and Perinatal Health Institute. He is concerned with the data surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Papageorghiou noticed that there were inconsistencies in data and trial information. Many publications showed the double-counting of women in studies, leading to confusion as to the severity of COVID-19. This proves the need for large-scale data and large control groups of women in studies and randomised trials. Papageorghiou also noted the need for greater international collaboration and sharing of data. Misinformation can be countered with sound studies, collaboration, and a steady flow of authoritative scientific information. 

By bringing together so many great minds, ISUOG aids the obstetrics and gynaecological community at large. Through this ongoing collaboration and sharing of information, the gynaecological community can provide better healthcare and support to women worldwide. The 31st World Congress in Obstetrics and Gynaecology was another successful event in the women’s health calendar. 

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