UCLA Health Obstetrics and Gynecology Commits to Global Health Initiatives
Through clinical care, research, education and community service, the UCLA Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology is committed to advancing and improving women’s health locally as well as globally. Through our established and growing global health partnerships we aim to contribute to initiatives that address current health care needs and health inequities for women, while also mutually benefitting from an exchange of educational and cultural ideas. Two faculty members, Dr. Christopher Tarnay and Dr. Aparna Sridhar, have been instrumental in cultivating global partnerships.
Partnerships with Medicine for Humanity and the University of Mbarara
For almost 15 years, Dr. Christopher Tarnay, Clinical Professor of UCLA Obstetrics and Gynecology, has worked with Medicine for Humanity, a non-profit with a mission to address disparities in women’s reproductive health in the developing world and to help provide medical education. Dr. Tarnay became involved in 2008 and now serves as the organization’s medical director and president. During that time, he has been instrumental in establishing partnerships with local doctors and trainees to address the burden of obstetric fistula on women in Uganda. With Dr. Tarnay’s guidance, the Center for Gynecologic and Fistula Care, a dedicated surgical and recovery center, opened its doors in 2018 at Mbarara Hospital in western Uganda.
UCLA OBGYN residents interested in global health apply to an elective in Uganda, through our long-standing partnership with the University of Mbarara, which provides a unique international surgical experience. This program provides our trainees with exposure to fistula repairs and work on the obstetrical service with a valuable opportunity for cultural and educational exchanges with our host faculty and their residents. Additionally, fellows and other faculty participate in this program, bringing further expertise to both UCLA faculty and to our Uganda colleagues.
In 2021, Dr. Tarnay led a volunteer team on his most recent trip to Uganda to provide medical services and training. In five days, the team performed 45 surgeries to correct obstetric fistulas and pelvic floor disorders and helped train Ugandan doctors to perform surgery with the goal of building a self-sustaining clinic.
“I try to convey to our team that even with our humble knowledge and skillset if applied with effort but with an open heart and kindness one can make a difference to a woman’s life an entire world away. My mentor believed that by helping to improve women’s health we create healthier families, communities, and countries. Increasing access to high quality health care for women and mothers can be the key to improving the quality of life for all,” says Dr. Tarnay.
Establishing New Global Health Partnerships
For Aparna Sridhar MD, MPH, Associate Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UCLA, a passion for global women’s health began early in her career when through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation she developed video games for high school girls in India to learn about the basics of reproductive health. With the support of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), she continued to work in India by setting up ultrasound workshops for OB-GYNs and other specialists. In 2021, during the height of the pandemic, Dr. Sridhar forged a partnership between the Safe Motherhood Committee of the Federation of Obstetric and Gynecological Societies of India and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to spearhead a series of virtual academic exchange sessions about improving maternal health. She was then appointed as the chair of the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) subgroup of the Global Women’s Health Working group at ACOG.
Dr. Sridhar is also serving a 2-year term as the new Chair of the Contraception Committee for FIGO. Her goal for the committee is to become the global voice to support coordination of policies concerning contraceptive care and access. “Our committee will work towards reducing the global burden of maternal mortality by reducing unplanned pregnancies through the promotion of safe and effective contraception care for girls and women globally,” said Dr. Sridhar. Earlier this year she was the recipient of the Martin-Peterson Scholars Award from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in recognition of her achievements in global women’s health.
“I have always been passionate about Global Women’s Health. Being an immigrant, I have seen health care challenges globally and locally. As the newly appointed Chair of the Contraception Committee at FIGO, we are planning various educational, advocacy and research-based activities to improve contraception care across the globe. I have always incorporated medical education into my global health career by involving my trainees in these activities. I see myself as a global citizen and global reproductive health will always be a significant part of my career,” says Dr. Sridhar.
The Department is especially proud of these two faculty members who tirelessly work to improve the health of women locally and across the globe.