campaign, an advocacy and mobilization initiative founded by Turlington Burns to increase education and support for the global reduction of maternal mortality, addressed a variety of issues. Giving birth in the United States, where women lacking health insurance have difficulty finding prenatal, labor and post-partum care can be as problematic for pregnant women as giving birth in Africa.
"Unfortunately giving birth in poor countries is very dangerous," said Tavrow, who has worked with women in Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya and Gambia.
Dr. Paula Tavrow and Dr. Christopher Tarney, both from UCLA, speak about their experiences of treating women in Africa. Tarney recently returned from a medical mission in Uganda.
Dr. Tavrow spoke not only of the health risks associated with labor but also of some of the other long-term costs for women. "It’s extremely difficult for a girl who has given birth to stay in school," she said, noting that some first-time mothers may be as young as 12 years old. In most places in sub-Saharan Africa, as soon as a young woman’s pregnancy is noticed she’s no longer allowed to stay in school. After giving birth, she may not return to school because of the social stigma associated with her pregnancy, her long absence from school, school-related expenses and lack of reliable childcare, Tavrow said.
Dr. Tarnay spoke about the work that he and his colleagues are doing with Medicine for Humanity
to help improve the lives of women in southwestern Uganda who live with obstetric fistula
, a condition that results from long, obstructed labor that causes "an abnormal connection between the birth canal to the bladder or the rectum, or both." This condition often leaves women leaking urine, which, in turn, leaves them socially ostracized. Twice a year, Medicine for Humanity holds "Fistula Camps" and encourages women to come to the hospital at Mbarara University of Science and Technology for surgery to repair this condition.
"Part of what we do is try to get them not only repaired, but integrated back into society so they can be functional and working," Tarnay said.
The May 7 event was sponsored by the UCLA School of Law, the UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations
and Harlen, a luxury brand that supports the empowerment of women, in association with the UCLA Health and Human Rights Law Project, the USC School of Cinematic Arts, the UCLA Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, the UCLA Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the UC Global Health Institute.