Welcome to the last issue of O&G Magazine for 2020. Every year around this time, there is usually that feeling in the air of the year tapering out a little, the festive and holiday season awaiting our enjoyment and the chance to reflect on the year past. Here we are, almost at the end of 2020. For most of us, especially in Melbourne, this month feels much like the last 7 months – the same.
To say the least; this year is a little different.
I find it fitting that the final O&G Magazine for 2020 is fortuitously themed around Global Health. In fact, 2020 has been entirely themed around global health with the world focused on the COVID-19 health crisis. The global pandemic, and our response to it, will be something that we reflect on for years to come. Did we do the right thing? Did we do our best? What did we learn?
One thing we have been reminded of, and that is embedded in our responsibility as a leader in women’s health, is the obligation we have to our global neighbours and our commitment to helping improve women’s health in the Pacific and beyond. The onus is on us to share our education, training and research support to aid capacity-building, collaboration, and advocacy in our developing nations.
Collaboration is integral to the College’s efforts in improving women’s health in the Pacific and this year, RANZCOG supported the COVID-19 response in the Pacific in partnership with local and regional organisations. In response to requests for assistance from Pacific O&G specialists for developing local guidelines at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, RANZCOG partnered with the Pacific Society for Reproductive Health (PSRH) to develop a guide on COVID-19 and pregnancy in resource-limited environments. The guide was distributed widely across the Pacific. The College is also currently developing a Global Health Experience Map, which presents a snapshot of the global health experiences of College members and trainees. This map will soon be accessible to members and trainees.
With the support of PSRH and the Pacific community, RANZCOG hosted a COVID-19 and O&G webinar series for the Pacific O&G workforce. Featuring presentations from RANZCOG, the University of Papua New Guinea, United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) Asia-Pacific, Fiji National University, the Burnet Institute, the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital, and Dhaka Medical College Hospital; the webinar series was well-received, with sessions attracting participants from across the Asia-Pacific region.
RANZCOG offers several Pacific scholarships to enable Pacific O&G trainees and specialists to attend RANZCOG events in Australia and New Zealand, improving their access to CPD and networking opportunities. These scholarships also help build the knowledge and skill base of the Pacific O&G workforce, benefiting clinical practice and improving healthcare provision to women in the Pacific. With the cancellation of many events in 2020, we hope that these learning experiences can be fulfilled in 2021 for our international trainees and specialists.
As we move towards the end of the year, in hopes of a better 2021, it is important for us to harness the opportunities for growth and learning that presented through the challenges of 2020. The year was one of ups and downs and never has it been more important to lean into each other and support our communities, peers and colleagues. With many restrictions in place, some areas affected more than others, we have all been so disconnected from one another but, on some levels, we remain even more connected than before in this age of accessibility.
Through virtual collaborations, we have formed mutually beneficial collegiate relationships; signing Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with the Canadian Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (SOGC), the Obstetrical and Gynecological Society of Malaysia (OGSM) and the Sri Lankan College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (SLCOG).
In 2020, and perhaps at the perfect time, RANZCOG established the Wellbeing Working Group whose objectives are to establish a range of appropriate wellbeing initiatives and functions that provide ongoing support and assistance for trainees and members throughout their training and work lifecycle. The College acknowledges the immense pressure and risks that our frontline medical workforce has endured in 2020 and the importance of making sure they have the necessary supports around them.
In 2021, the College will also extend its support to our members and trainees, with the formation of a Mentoring Working Group. The working group will be tasked with developing a framework to help support trainees and members, by expanding their network and by fostering social and professional inclusion and information sharing and to support the career goals and wellbeing of professionals within the O&G profession. This includes early-career Fellows, SIMGs, trainees and members in difficulty or with special needs and rural and remote doctors.
Our ongoing commitment to global health will be on the world stage between the 24 to 29 October, when the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) and RANZCOG co-host the triennial 2021 FIGO World Congress in Sydney. The hybrid event will be one of the most important global academic events for our speciality with thousands of delegates from around the world uniting to learn, educate, share ideas, and express their experiences in women’s health.
With so many important projects and opportunities on the horizon, I look forward to what 2021 brings the College and I wish you good health and happiness for the festive season and the new year.