FIGO 2021 World Congress Blog – Day Six

Description: We started the sixth day of FIGO 2021 with an insightful keynote lecture on fetal precision medicine. This was followed by an exciting day of learning about issues such as vaccination in pregnancy, artificial intelligence (AI) and telemedicine, and more. We ended the day with the Latin America Regional Evening, which focused on abortion, gender-based violence and caesarean section.

day 6 blog visual

A keynote on Fetal Precision Medicine 

Day six of the FIGO 2021 World Congress began with a keynote lecture by Dr Diana Bianchi, “The Earlier the Better: The Case for Fetal Precision Medicine”. Dr Bianchi demonstrated the usefulness of the Cell-Free RNA in amniotic acid and explored avenues for the delivery of prenatal precision health. As a final point, Dr Bianchi focused on showing how the takeaways from this work can be applied in both high- and low-resource settings for the prevention of preterm birth. 

bianchi keynote visual

Recent developments: Cervical Cancer 

Later, the FIGO Gynaecological Oncology Track organised a session providing Cervical Cancer Updates. Dr Joanna Cain opened the session with a talk detailing the new screening guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO)/International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) for the eradication of cervical cancer. Dr Marie Plante followed up with a presentation on the future of early stage cervical treatment, looking at the potential offered by less radical surgeries. 

Then, Dr Neerja Bhatla discussed the prevention and management of cervical cancer in women living with HIV (WLHIV) – looking at epidemiology, screening guidelines, management options, human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination and treatment outcomes. Dr Kathleen Schmeler ended this session with a presentation on a recent ConCerv study to address the question ‘is it time to forget the radical trachelectomy’ to preserve the fertility of women with cervical cancer? 

COVID-19 Vaccines in Pregnancy: safe and effective 

This was followed by an engaging live panel organised by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on “Vaccines Recommended in Pregnancy – Including COVID-19: Latest Evidence and Guidance”. This session was chaired by Professor Geeta Swamy and Ms Ajoke Sobanjo-ter Meulen, who were joined by Mr Patrick O’Brien, Dr Yariv Yogev, Dr Annemarie Fogerty and Dr Esperanza Sevene.  

This panel gave an overview of the current evidence and guidance on the safety and efficacy of vaccinating pregnant women against COVID-19. Speakers highlighted that both vaccine hesitancy and vaccine inequity are costing lives around the world, sharing experiences from diverse national contexts.  

The experts also discussed the vital importance of communications during the pandemic, using both traditional and social media to get life-saving messages across during the pandemic. Speakers also highlighted the essential role played by OBGYNs in pushing for policy changes to include women in vaccination programmes and in providing compassionate and accurate advice to pregnant women on the ground.  

vaccination panel

The Role of Telemedicine and Artificial Intelligence in OBGYN 

Following this, we heard a fascinating session that asked “Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Telemedicine in Obstetrics and Gynaecology: If Not Now, When?”, chaired by Dr Francis Githae Muriithi. Ruben Ramirez Zegarra opened this session with a presentation on “Telemedicine Comes to the Rescue during the COVID-19 Era”, highlighting that telemedicine is here to stay and will continue to expand, and will have a wide array of uses in the field of OBGYN.    Dr Edward Morris followed up with a talk on “AI in Obstetrics and Gynaecology: Where Are We Now?”, providing insights into the role of data collection to improve the quality of health care delivery. Dr Nathaniel DeNicola looked at making telemedicine and AI feasible, safe and sound for all, presenting key findings from recent research on the issue. 

artificial intelligence panel

Perspectives from the Latin American region 

We ended the penultimate day of Congress with an engaging Latin American Regional Evening, organised by our partners at the Latin American Federation of Societies of Obstetrics and Gynecology (FLASOG). The evening started with a panel on barriers to abortion in Latin America followed by a discussion on the “pending debt” of gender-based violence in the region. The last portion of the evening focused on answering the question “how can we address the pandemic of unnecessary caesarean-section in Latin America?” It was a wonderful evening filled with important conversations and powerful insights from world-leading experts.