LSTM’s Centre for Maternal and Newborn health (CMNH), has hosted a debate at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this week as part of the B!RTH Project, which aims to shine a light on reproductive rights and birth inequalities faced by women around the world.
The debate accompanies a series of plays, on which CMNH provided scientific assistance, which form part of the Fringe’s educational programme and are being shown at the Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre. Originally performed last year in Manchester, B!RTH is a creative partnership between CMNH, the Oglesby Charitable Trust and the Royal Exchange Theatre and comprises plays written by female playwrights from various countries worldwide, each focusing on a different reproductive or maternal health issue faced by women in that country.
Head of CMNH, Professor Nynke van den Broek, said: “Every day, around 800 women die during or after pregnancy and childbirth and for every woman who dies, around 30 more women suffer complications that affect their well-being. These women cannot remain statistics, their voices have to be heard. The B!RTH plays provide an innovative platform to do this. ”
Four of the original six plays will be staged at the Traverse over the next few weeks, and following Wednesday’s showing of Ouroboros, by Swati Simha (India) there was a panel debate at the Royal Society of Edinburgh comprising of invited guests and members of the audience. The panel, chaired by Professor van den Broek, included panellists Sarah Brown, Founder and President of Theirworld , Professor Jim Dornan, Chair of Health & Life Sciences Ulster University and Consultant Gynaecologist and Dr Sharon Cameron, Consultant Gynaecologist, Co-Director of the Clinical Effectiveness Unit of Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare UK and Editor of BJOG. Following a brief welcome by Michael Oglesby of the Oglesby Charitable Trust, the panel each introduced themselves and gave some background relating to their interest in the project before the floor was opened to questions from the audience.
CMNH’s Mary McCauley, who has been involved in the project from its beginning, was delighted with the way that the plays and the debate were received by the audience. She said: “B!RTH has been designed to raise awareness and encourage debate around the vast inequality in maternal healthcare around the world by bringing together the worlds of arts and science to affect real change. This week so far has been a great success and we are looking forward to continuing the project and partnership, which we hope will see us stage events in Geneva and London in the next 12 months.”