Jhpiego, a global health nonprofit affiliated with Johns Hopkins, kicked off its year-long 40th anniversary celebration at the XX World Congress of the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) Oct. 7-12 in Rome, Italy, with a special event featuring three distinguished alumni and their work in helping the organization prevent the needless deaths of women and families.
More than 200 conference attendees from the field of obstetrics and gynecology joined Dr. Leslie Mancuso, Jhpiego's President and Chief Executive Officer, and her leadership team for an evening of reminiscences and reflections on the organization's 40 years of experience in saving women's lives through low-cost, innovative health care solutions. The event also highlighted the next generation of global health solutions that will help carry forward the progress that has been made in reducing maternal deaths, including the launch of a new educational initiative to help mothers survive childbirth. The Helping Mothers Survive program helps train frontline health workers with a birth simulator, the MamaNatalie. The initiative is a partnership between Jhpiego and Laerdal Global Health of Norway.
"While reflecting on the accomplishments and successes we are most proud of over the last 40 years, one stood out almost immediately, the people," said Dr. Mancuso in prepared remarks. "Jhpiego is very proud of our success in developing a global health workforce that not only keeps women and families alive and healthy, but that shares what they've learned with their colleagues and communities."
The four keynote speakers helped tell the story of Jhpiego's history through personal recollections of their work with Jhpiego. Dr. Gamal Serour, the President of FIGO, shared with the audience the call he received from Dr. Howard W. Jones, Jhpiego's first director, which changed the course of his career. Then a young physician in Cairo with a pregnant wife carrying twins, Serour was soon on a plane to Baltimore to help pave the way for the first regional overseas reproductive health training center operated by Jhpiego, then known as the Johns Hopkins Program for International Education in Gynecology and Obstetrics.
Dr. Khunying Kobchitt Limpaphayom, of Chulalongkorn University in Thailand, remembered her invitation in the 1980s from Dr. Theodore M. King, a founding innovator at Jhpiego, to join a team that would learn the latest in laparoscopic surgery for family planning. Returning home to Thailand, she hand-carried a laparoscopic instrument on the plane to ensure that her colleagues had the best equipment.
Dr. Hema Divakar, who leads India's preeminent OB/GYN organization, FOGSI, told the audience how a visit in the 1990s from Jhpiego's Medical Director and chief innovator, Dr. Harshad Sanghvi, energized her organization. It set FOGSI on a new path to ensuring that women in the most remote corners of India had access to emergency obstetric care so they could survive childbirth.
After such an exciting kick-start to their anniversary year, Jhpiego looks toward a year of celebrations around the world, including special events in Baltimore.