FIGO 2021 World Congress Blog – Day Seven

On the seventh and final day of the FIGO 2021 World Congress, we started with a fascinating talk on disparities in maternal mortality – and how to address these. This was followed by many engaging talks, including on addressing obesity in pregnancy and training in LARCs. We then heard from the outgoing and incoming FIGO Presidents, Dr Carlos Fütchner and Dr Jeanne Conry, as part of our Closing Ceremony. We ended the day with a North American evening focused on key topics to address in the field of OBGYN.

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Addressing disparities in maternal mortality 

We started this last day of the FIGO 2021 World Congress with a powerful keynote lecture by Dr Nawal Nour on maternal mortality in the US (including disparities) and worldwide.  

Dr Nour started her presentation with a global snapshot of maternal mortality both before and during COVID, highlighting global disparities. She then focused her attention on the case of the United States, presenting data demonstrating the racial and ethnic inequities that put women of colour – and especially Black women – at risk of maternal mortality and morbidity. This talk highlighted different ways to address such inequities, at systemic, institutional and individual levels.  

Analysing maternal mortality globally during COVID-19 

This was followed by a discussion organised by the World Association of Trainees in Obstetrics and Gynecology (WATOG) on “Maternal Mortality due to COVID: An Opportunity for Analysis”. Chaired by Denise Armatas-Sproul, this session featured case studies from three countries. First, Dr Carlos Zapata-Caballero discussed the case of Mexico, underlining current and future strategies needed for the prevention of maternal mortality, particularly in LMICs. 

He was followed by Dr Fabiano Elisei, who talked about Brazil’s experience with maternal mortality due to COVID – highlighting the vital importance of vaccination, continued prevention, diagnosis, and early treatment in the management of COVID. Dr Athulya Shajan ended the session with some insights from India, presenting key data from the country while highlighting that with a decline in hospitalisations, the institutional data available only paints a partial picture of the country’s reality. 

Obesity in OBGYN Practice 

Later, we heard a session on “Meeting the Challenges of Obesity in OBGYN Practice”, organised by FIGO Women’s Health Issues and Policy Track and chaired by Professor Frank Louwen.  

Dr Gianluca Gennarelli aimed to answer the question “does obesity affect fertility?”, highlighting that while a high BMI does carry risks for maternal and fetal health, in itself it is not an accurate predictor for success in assisted reproductive technology (ART). In his talk, Dr Tahir Mahmood described the rationale of Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) screening, arguing that screening for hyperglycaemia is relevant for all pregnant women. 

Professor Justin C Konje focused on “when and how to deliver a severely obese woman”, underlining the different risks to take into account. He recommended that delivery should happen in weeks 38 – 40 of pregnancy, and that both caesarean section and induced labour are acceptable avenues to undertake, depending on the woman. 

LARCs Training  

We later heard from an exciting panel of experts on the topic of “Training of Long Acting Reversible Contraception Globally”, organised by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and chaired by Professor Paul Blumenthal, United States. Dr Andrea Henkel started this session with a presentation on cultivating the next generation of LARC providers, discussing lessons learned in the United States on reaching students and trainees with LARC training.  

Dr Lisa Goldthwaithe followed up with a talk on “Postpartum IUD: global diffusion of best practices”, stressing the safety and efficacy of IUD insertion in the immediate postpartum period and sharing key lessons on training. Dr Eve Espey discussed global work with LARCs, and how to use the 4 P’s (product, place, price promotion) of social marketing to educate patients on contraception – and LARCs specifically.  

Closing the XXIII FIGO World Congress 

The Closing Ceremony of the FIGO 2021 World Congress had Dr Kiarna Brown as Master of Ceremonies. Dr Carlos Fütchner, outgoing FIGO President, opened this ceremony by looking back on his three years of presidency, describing the key successes this period, and thanks the FIGO committees, trustees, council and staff for their work during this time. 

We were then joined by Dr Jeanne Conry, Incoming FIGO President, who first recognised and thanked Dr Fütchner for his work with FIGO. She then presented the FIGO Strategic Plan 2021–2030, setting out her key objectives for her time at FIGO – with a focus on well-woman health, raising awareness of the impact of climate change and envirnonmental exposure on reproductive health, and advocating for “every woman, every time, everywhere”.  

Professor Mary Ann Lumsden, FIGO Chief Executive, shared her enthusiasm for a successful virtual FIGO 2021 World Congress, inviting participants to make the most of the platform’s on-demand library to watch sessions until 31 December 2021. She then introduced Dr Joëlle Belaisch Allart, President of the Collège National des Gynécologues et Obstétriciens Français (CNGOF) to present the hybrid FIGO 2023 World Congress to be held in Paris.

Ending the day (and week!) in North America 

The North America Evening closed a successful and engaging FIGO 2021 World Congress. Hosted jointly by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) and the Federación Mexicana de Colegios de Obstetricia y Ginecología (FEMECOG), this evening focused on three key topics: experiences of residency, trainee resilience in the COVID-19 pandemic and global women’s health work. 

It has been an incredible week full of sharing, learning and connecting. We are proud to have been able to host so many sessions and bring together so many member societies, obstetricians and gynaecologists, midwives, nurses, NGOs, patients, advocates and other health care specialists and professionals in the field of women's health and policy

If you missed it, it's not too late to register – all content will be available on the virtual platform until 31 December 2021.