RCOG 2017
JOINT RCOG / UNIVERSITY OF CAPE TOWN EVENT

Plenary Speakers

Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran PhD DSc FRCS FRCOG

Sir Sabaratnam is Professor Emeritus of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, St George’s University of London from Jan 2013 after he retired from his position as Professor & Head of O&G in the same institution from 2001 to 2013. He is also Foundation Professor of O&G, St George’s Medical school, University of Nicosia from 2014 and Visiting Professor, Institute of Global Health Policy Innovation, Imperial College, London from 2012.

He was past President of the FIGO (International Federation of Obstetrics & Gynaecology) – (2012 - 2015); of the British Medical Association (BMA) June 2013- June 2014 and the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists (RCOG) of the UK (2007-2010).

He was recipient of Honorary Doctorate from University of Athens (2009), Colombo (2014), London (2013) and Lund, Sweden (2014) and Hon Fellowships from the American, Pakistan, Sri Lankan, South African, Indian, Australia and NZ colleges of O&G and is a Member of the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, USA (2014).

He is author of 280 peer reviewed indexed publications, 175 book chapters; author or editor of 32 books; Editor in Chief of ‘Best Practice and Research in Obstetrics & Gynaecology’ and web based learning resource – Global Library of Women’s Medicine - ‘www.glowm.com’.

He was appointed Knight Bachelor by her Majesty the Queen of the UK in her Birthday Honours List in June 2009 in recognition of his services to Medicine and Health Care.


Dr. Mitchell Besser

Dr. Mitchell Besser founded mothers2mothers at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa in 2001.
In January 2000 Besser moved to Cape Town, South Africa as a member of the University of Cape Town's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and as a consultant for the clinical roll-out of Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) services at Groote Schuur Hospital.
While working at Groote Schuur, Besser realised that even when PMTCT medical treatment was available, it was often less than effective because of social, emotional and psychological barriers to success. To help break through those barriers, Besser identified South Africa's HIV-positive mothers as a "valuable, under-utilized resource." Besser enlisted new mothers living openly with HIV/AIDS who, as Mentor Mothers, began to connect with and educate their pregnant peers about the importance of PMTCT services, disclosing their status to loved ones, and living positive lives.
The result of these efforts is mothers2mothers today.


Professor Lynette Denny

Lynette Denny is the Chair and Professor of Obstetrics & Gynaecology and registered sub-specialist in Gynaecological Oncology at Groote Schuur Hospital and University of Cape Town. She has published over 100 peer reviewed papers on preventing cervical cancer in low resource settings and been a keynote speaker at numerous international conferences.

She was awarded the Distinguished Scientist for Improving the Quality of Life of Women by the South African Department of Science and Technology in 2006 and is a B2 rated scientist by the National Research Foundation of South Africa.

Amongst Professor Denny’s prestigious awards are the BSCCP Founders’ Medal presented at the 15th World Congress for Cervical Pathology and Colposcopy in London, UK in 2014 in recognition of her outstanding work.

In 2015 Professor Denny received the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics Award in Vancouver, Canada in recognition of Women Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and in 2016 was awarded the Medal of Honour Award by the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon for her outstanding contributions to cancer research, particularly in relation to work on cervical cancer prevention among disadvantaged communities. In October 2016 Professor Denny was presented with the International Gynecologic Cancer Society Global Humanitarian Award in Lisbon.


Dr. France Donnay

France Donnay, MD, FRCOG, FACOG, MPH is an independent consultant on women's health policies, programs and practices. For example, she is consulting with UCSF and Ariadnelabs on quality maternal care at childbirth in Kenya and India; with WHO; and with M4ID on applying user centric design to achieve better outcomes for mothers and newborns. She is Adjunct Professor at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. She is a member of the Advisory Board of MerckforMothers. She is the Associate Editor for Maternal Health for Global Health Science and Practice.

From 2008 - 2015, France Donnay was Senior Program Officer, Maternal Health at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. She managed a large portfolio of grants and works with many MNCH organizations.

France practiced obstetrics and gynecology in hospitals and family planning clinics in Brussels from 1975 - 1993. She also consulted with WHO, the World Bank, and UNFPA. She was Visiting Professor at the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp.

In 1994, France joined UNICEF and worked on safe motherhood. At UNFPA from 1999 she was in charge of technical support to country offices from 1999 to 2005, before leading the UNFPA office in Pakistan from 2005 to 2008. She has worked in many countries in all regions of the world.


Professor Atul Gawande

Atul Gawande, MD, MPH, is a surgeon, writer, and public health researcher. He practices general and endocrine surgery at Brigham and Women's Hospital. He is Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Samuel O. Thier Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School. He is also Executive Director of Ariadne Labs, a joint center for health systems innovation, and Chairman of Lifebox, a nonprofit organization making surgery safer globally.

Atul has been a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine since 1998 and has written four New York Times bestsellers: Complications, Better, The Checklist Manifesto, and most recently, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End. He is the winner of two National Magazine Awards, AcademyHealth's Impact Award for highest research impact on healthcare, a MacArthur Fellowship, and the Lewis Thomas Award for writing about science.


Dr. Leonard Kabongo

Leonard Kabongo received a Medical degree at the University of Lubumbashi in 2004 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He has since practiced Medicine in the DRC, neighboring Zambia and now in Namibia. He is currently completing a Master degree in Global Health at Manchester University in the United Kingdom. His research interest focuses on the evaluation of standard clinical practices in maternal and newborn health. He is an advocate for patient safety and quality improvement focus on maternal /newborn care, Obstetric surgery and Anaesthesia. He is a fellow of the International Society for Quality in Healthcare and Ariadnelabs .He is involved in global projects with the Lifebox foundation and Better Birth program which he introduced in Namibia. He is a Master trainer of Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care with Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in Namibia. A quality improvement champion who has adapted and used extensively safe surgery and safe childbirth checklists to promote quality improvement culture and Organizational change at Gobabis Hospital and beyond. His work has been presented in various National and international conferences focused on quality improvement and patient safety. Dr Kabongo is the Senior Medical Officer at Gobabis Hospital in Namibia, an Institution that is been transformed through various quality improvement projects and collaborations.


Dr. Vishwajeet Kumar

Dr. Vishwajeet Kumar is a physician from India with advanced public health training from Johns Hopkins University where he subsequently served on its faculty. His scientific work focuses on developing and evaluating solutions to improve the health and survival of mothers, newborns and children. His earliest work on community-based behaviour change management demonstrated a 54% reduction in newborn deaths and has informed the global strategy for newborn survival. Dr. Kumar has authored the "Behavior Change Management" approach to guide the design of programs to achieve accelerated behavior change and targeted epidemiological impact. He is a proponent of community-centric design to 'enculturate' scientific advancements within traditional communities.

Dr. Kumar founded the Community Empowerment Lab - a community embedded global co-laboratory in rural Uttar Pradesh, the ground zero of global health challenges. This collaboratory includes 3500 villages, a multi-disciplinary team, global partnerships and multiple behavioural research projects. This collaboratory serves as a platform to take the lab to the land, and foster global and local conversations to co-create just and lasting solutions at the confluence of science and local wisdom.

Dr. Kumar is currently leading an effort to scale-up Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) across 80+ health facilities in Uttar Pradesh, India, which will eventually provide a blueprint for scale throughout the Indian health system. Along with Dr. Atul Gawande at Harvard University, he is studying the integration and impact of a safe birthing checklist as a behavior change management intervention for reducing harm to newborns and mothers in over 100 Primary Health Centres in India. He has also lead efforts to integrate behavior change management approaches within 250,000 women self-help groups for newborn health and survival and continues to understand its impact at scale.

Dr. Kumar is a recipient of several global Grand Challenges awards and a Rockefeller Foundation award on Human Behavior. He has been awarded the Asia 21 Young Global Leaders Fellowship, the LMA National Young Achievers Award for transformational public service leadership, and is a member of the GE Global Insights Network of global thought leaders. He has published widely in international peer-reviewed journals including The Lancet, and is a member of several global and national advisory boards including the Global Alliance for Vaccine Initiative. Dr. Kumar is a featured TEDx speaker and has shared the stage with global luminaries to give talks on child health and community-centered design and innovation. Dr. Kumar is deeply passionate about mentoring future global health and public service leaders.


Dr. Rogerio A. Lobo M.D.

Rogerio A. Lobo, M.D. received his medical degree from Georgetown University Medical School in Washington, D.C., and completed his residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Chicago Lying-in Hospital at the University of Chicago. He went on to complete a clinical research fellowship in the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at the University of Southern California Medical Center in Los Angeles.

He has since held numerous teaching positions, including Assistant and Associate Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, where he was later promoted to full Professor. In 1995 he came to the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City where he was named the Willard C. Rappleye Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Chairman of the Department. He was also appointed Director of the Center for Reproductive Sciences at the College of Physicians and Surgeons and Director of the Sloane Hospital for Women, Columbia University Medical Center.

Dr. Lobo has done extensive research in various areas of reproductive endocrinology and infertility. His primary research interests are in reproductive endocrinology, specifically in hyperandrogenic disorders and polycystic ovary syndrome. He also carried out extensive research in gamete biology, induction of ovulation, IVF, and estrogen metabolism and the treatment of postmenopausal women. He has excelled in his areas of clinical interest and practice which include reproductive endocrinology, infertility, and menopause. In 2010 he became President of the American Society For Reproductive Medicine.

His book Treatment of the Post-Menopausal Woman is in its Third Edition. Another text, Menopause, was published in early 2000. Currently, Dr. Lobo is the lead Editor for the Seventh Edition of Contemporary Gynecology.


Professor Ian Milsom M.B., Ch.B. (Hons), Ph.D.
Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Institute of Clinical Sciences Sahlgrenska Academy, Gothenburg University, Gothenburg, Sweden

Ian Milsom was born and raised in the UK. He received his medical degree from the University of Liverpool in the UK in 1973. His clinical postgraduate training was carried out in Gothenburg, Sweden, where he was granted specialist authorisation in Obstetrics and Gynaecology in 1981. He completed his PhD thesis in 1984 at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. He was appointed Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg in 2000. This position is combined with the position of Consultant Gynaecologist at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Gothenburg, Sweden. Professor Milsom is the current Chairman of the Institute of Clinical Sciences, Sahlgrenska Academy, at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Professor Milsom is the author and/or co-author of numerous publications within the field of female reproductive health. He has a broad research interest, which includes urogynæcological conditions, contraception as well as menstrual disturbances such as dysmenorrhea and menorrhagia. He has devoted particular interest towards the epidemiological aspects of these common conditions.


Professor Robert Norman

Professor Robert Norman is Professor of Reproductive and Periconceptual Medicine at the Robinson Research Institute, University of Adelaide. He was the Founding Director of the Robinson Research Institute, which focuses on the early stages of life to improve the health and well being of children and families over the life-course and across generations. Professor Norman is a clinician scientist who has sub-specialised in reproductive medicine and endocrinology and is particularly interested in events around the time of conception. His expertise is in assisted reproduction, infertility management and polycystic ovary syndrome, a condition which is very commonly found in women across the reproductive and post-reproductive lifespan.

He has been Chief Investigator on two NHMRC Program Grants and has had project, development and Centre of Research Excellence funding for the past two decades from NHMRC. He is currently Medical Director of a fertility clinic (Fertility SA), a Visiting Medical Specialist at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, a co-Director of the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence for the origins, outcomes and optimal management of polycystic ovary syndrome. He has served on the NHMRC Research Committee as well as the NHMRC’s Embryo Licencing Committee. He is past President of ASPIRE and the Androgen Excess PCOS Society. He became an Officer in the Order of Australia (AO) in 2013 and was awarded Fellowship of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences in 2015.


Professor Lesley Regan

Professor Lesley Regan became the 30th President of the RCOG in September 2016. She is Head of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at St Mary's Campus, Imperial College London. Her principal clinical and research interests are in reproductive medicine and promoting a life-course approach to preventative women's health care. At Imperial she is Deputy Head of Surgery and Cancer, chair of the Equality and Diversity Committee, Director of the Women's Health Research Centre and Co-Director of the UK pregnancy Baby Bio Bank. She also chairs the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death.

As President, Lesley's aspirations are to build on the work she started as Vice President for Strategic Development: to increase the influence and profile of the RCOG and to ensure we become the first port of call for policy-makers, professionals, the press and the public. A key priority is developing our new Centre for Global Women's Health, allowing us to use our expertise in education and clinical quality to improve women's health care around the world more effectively. The new Centre will be home to the Leading Safe Choices programme RCOG, a transformational project to strengthen the competence and raise the standing of family planning professionals in South Africa and Tanzania. See the programme for opportunities to find out more about the Leading Safe Choices programme.

In the UK, Professor Regan will be leading our contribution to the Maternity Transformation Programme implementation and developing our capacity to influence workforce developments. Another focus is to further build on the success of the RCOG's Lindsay Stewart Centre for Audit and Clinical Informatics, ensuring we are able to translate clinical data and priorities into health policy and improved clinical practice. The College will be emphasising the importance of developing perinatal mental healthcare provision and strengthening the capacity of the NHS to provide safe and compassionate abortion services within UK law. Lesley will also continue to develop the College's advocacy programme, building on the success of the RCOG's International Women's Day events on Human Rights, Domestic Violence and Maternal Mental Health.

In 2015 she received an honorary fellowship of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and a Doctorate of Science from University College London for her contributions to women's health.


Dr. Rajiv Saurastri

Rajiv leads PSI team for the innovative BetterBirth program, which partners with the Harvard School of Public Health (Ariadne Labs), WHO and the Government of Uttar Pradesh, India, to increase health professionals' uptake of essential practices during delivery. BetterBirth is one of the largest facility-based trials ever conducted, covering about 162,000 births and 120 facilities across 24 districts of Uttar Pradesh.

Rajiv has over twenty five years of experience in working on development projects pertaining to health, education, water & sanitation and media development with responsibilities of project planning, management, implementation, administration, finance and training, both as a consultant and staff with various Indian and international organizations. Few such organizations are Landesa Rural Development Institute, Population Foundation of India, Ram Krishna Sarada Mission, BBC World Service Trust, and Program Support Unit Foundation. During his tenure in the health sector he has been a member of Common Review Mission instituted by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Govt. of India for two consecutive years. Geographically, he has worked in thirteen states of India which include four North Eastern states. His academics cover Sociology, Commerce and Law.

Rajiv's wife is a teacher. They have two daughters.


Dr. Katherine Semrau

Dr. Semrau has over 15 years of experience in the fields of maternal and child health and epidemiology. Her research has focused on prevention of maternal and child mortality, improvement of quality of care, and prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Currently, Dr. Semrau is overseeing a large randomized controlled trial of a coaching-based intervention to increase use and adherence to the WHO Safe Childbirth Checklist.

Previously, as the co-Principal Investigator of the recently completed Zambia Chlorhexidine Application Trial (ZamCAT), Dr. Semrau led the epidemiology and data analysis team for this cluster randomized control trial of >39,000 births in Southern Province, Zambia. As a team member of the Zambia Exclusive Breastfeeding Study, she lived in Zambia for over 3 years running the study laboratory and coordinating all enrollment, data collection and data management activities. She then returned to the U.S. and collaborated on multiple projects in sub-Saharan Africa, India and the Republic of Georgia.

In addition, Katherine is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and an Associate Epidemiologist at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in the Division of Global Health Equity.

Dr. Semrau's dissertation research focused on breast problems, including mastitis and abscess, and HIV in HIV-infected women in Zambia. Dr. Semrau has a PhD in epidemiology from Boston University and an MPH in international health and epidemiology from the University of Alabama-Birmingham.


Professor Philip J Steer

Philip Steer is Professor Emeritus at Imperial College London, having been appointed Professor in 1989. He was a consultant obstetrician for 35 years, based at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital from 1994. He is an author on 125 peer reviewed primary research papers, 90 reviews and editorials and 57 book chapters and books. Much of his research has been on the pathophysiology of labour. He was Editor-in-Chief of BJOG – an International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology - from 2005-2012, is now editor emeritus, and edits the ‘BJOG on the case’ series. He is currently an editor of ‘High Risk Pregnancy – Management Options’ with the fifth edition in production with Cambridge University Press, who have also just published the second edition of ‘Heart Disease in Pregnancy’ that he edits with Prof Michael Gatzoulis. He was President of the British Association of Perinatal Medicine from 1996 to 1999 and President of the Section of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the Royal Society of Medicine 2008-9.


Mr Abdul H Sultan MB.ChB, MD, FRCOG

Abdul Sultan is a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist with a special interest in Urogynaecology and Pelvic Floor Dysfunction at Croydon University Hospital and is a Honorary Reader at St George's University of London. He completed his postgraduate training at St George's Hospital with Professor Stuart Stanton. His research at St Mark's Hospital involved studying the effects of childbirth on the anal sphincters. This led to a landmark paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine and to a Doctorate. His pioneering work highlighted the deficiencies in training of doctors and midwives in detecting and repairing obstetric injuries to the anal sphincter.

He is the co-director of a tertiary referral urogynaecology Unit at Croydon University Hospital with subspecialty training and has an active research programme. He has over 200 publications and has co-produced the first comprehensive textbook on perineal and anal sphincter trauma. He is the co director of the popular Perineal Trauma and Pelvic Floor Ultrasound courses.

He was awarded the prestigious overall "UK Hospital Doctor of the Year" award and was the President of the Section of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the Royal Society of Medicine.


Dr. Suresh Seshadri

A pioneer in the field of diagnostic Ultrasound established foetal medicine as a speciality in India with extensive knowledge and skills in all aspects of this speciality. Established Mediscan Systems and built the laboratory infrastructure needed for support and diagnosis in foetal medicine. From the beginning continues to provide a huge volume of free service to those who cannot afford care stemming from a strong sense of social responsibility. Has been in the forefront of private public partnership interacting with the government of Tamil Nadu in organising and implementing screening programs both antenatal and neonatal screening besides training programs for doctors. Established Foetal Care research foundation, an NGO, to provide preventive supportive and curative care for birth defects. Established the Birth defect registry of India with the single minded focus of reducing Perinatal mortality and morbidity. A dedicated teacher has trained many doctors from India and abroad in this field. Established a state of the art imaging software and involved in a web portal to ensure standards in ultrasound reporting and education. An active Rotarian, avid photographer and amateur radio operator.


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