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Canadian and African MDs unite for women

CPAR is working to reduce the inequalities faced by African women when it comes to their health, whether it is removing barriers to accessing prenatal care, enhancing education about sexual and reproductive health, or increasing the capacity of health systems to identify and treat women’s health issues including as a result of gender-based violence.


On International Women’s Day 2022, we would like to introduce two incredible doctors who have been instrumental in our work to improve the health of girls and women in the communities we serve. Dr. Felagot Tadesse, MD, OBGYN, is the Chief Resident, Assistant Professor and Quality Vice Head at St. Paul’s Hospital Millennium Medical College, department of OBGYN in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

"When I see a woman suffering from preventable health conditions, I ask myself what if she was my child, my sister, or my mother. I go back and consider my role and my contribution to lessen such suffering it gives me the energy to work harder and dream bigger.”

Dr. Felagot joined CPAR when we expanded our rural ultrasound program to include hours during Saturday market days. Women in rural Ethiopia travel to market on the weekend to work and trade, so including hours when women were already in town reduced the burden of additional time and travel costs. When an expectant mother visits the clinic (health post), the local healthcare professional connects with Dr. Felagot, in Addis Ababa, who reviews the ultrasound imaging in real-time and provides critical diagnostic information, ensuring more healthy mothers and babies.

"Being part of a society with major healthcare challenges is what inspired me to become a physician. Still, being a female physician in such a society has further instilled in me a special responsibility to contribute my part for the improvement of the health and wellbeing of women and girls.”

Dr. Felagot Tadesse, MD, OBGYN

In addition to the rural ultrasound program, Dr. Felagot is leading the development of tools which will provide clear steps for healthcare professionals to follow when treating girls and women who have experienced gender-based violence. She provides oversight and ongoing support to nurses, midwives, and healthcare extension workers in treating girls and women who have experienced gender-based violence.

"CPAR focuses on the most neglected health issues in developing countries. Giving emphasis to these difficult but underestimated health conditions allows us to reach the neediest women: women suffering physically, emotionally, socially, and economically from preventable health conditions.”

Here in Canada, Dr. Jennifer Nicholson, MD, OBGYN, is a volunteer and valued member of CPAR’s Program Advisory Committee (PAC) that brings together doctors and healthcare professionals from around the world to share their expertise to support and guide our programming.

Through her work with PAC, she is drawing on her extensive experience to help find the most efficient ways to provide services and navigate challenges. "Local in-country teams are the experts in their medical system. Even in Canada, every hospital has a way of doing things. Sometimes an outside perspective allows teams to see alternative ways to do things and how things can change and improve,” she said.

Dr. Nicholson saw the expansion of our rural ultrasound program as a straightforward way to reduce barriers for women accessing care. She explains that ultrasounds reduce risks for mothers and their babies in a number of ways. For example, by accurately dating a pregnancy so women are aware and may avoid post-term pregnancies (over 40 weeks) or identifying where the placenta is located to determine if caesarean section would be safer for delivery. She is inspired working with CPAR by, "the very real impact that CPAR programs can provide in improving the outcomes for mothers and babies in truly disadvantaged circumstances.”

Dr. Nicholson is currently collaborating with Dr. Felagot, drawing on Canadian content and international best practices, to develop tools to support healthcare professionals in the field when treating girls and women who have experienced gender-based violence.


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