Who’s Who: Steven Rad, MD
Over the winter holiday of 2010, Steven Rad, MD—a third-year obstetrics and gynecology resident at Cedars-Sinai—traveled 9,300 miles to Mbarara Hospital in Uganda in East Africa. For one week, he and his mentor Dotun Ogunyemi, MD, director of Cedars-Sinai’s Obstetrics and Gynecology residency training program, partnered with their counterparts in Mbarara, seeing patients, conducting rounds, delivering babies, and teaching. The region has Uganda’s highest fertility rate, with an average of seven children per woman, as well as a high infant mortality rate. The symbiotic learning experience that emerged proved so useful that Dr. Rad now facilitates a monthly videoconference between OB/GYN doctors and researchers at Cedars-Sinai and physicians in Mbarara. Though from vastly different worlds, both groups must deal with large numbers of high-risk pregnancies. Technology allows them to collaborate on complex cases and attain a global perspective on women’s health.
The Challenge: Mbarara Hospital serves a population of about eight million people, notes Dr. Rad. “Most women deliver their babies at home in their villages and only go to the hospital when there is a complication. Even so, 10,000 babies are born in Mbarara Hospital each year—almost 3,000 more than at Cedars-Sinai. There is no prenatal care in the region, and the Cesarean rate is as high as 30 percent.”
No Resources, No Problem: According to Dr. Rad, the doctors at Mbarara Hospital handle all pregnancy complications with very limited resources. “We have been learning from them how to do C-sections with very few sutures, how to control bleeding without medications, and how to treat pregnancies coupled with infectious diseases such as malaria or HIV.”
Technology Saves Lives: “The hospital in Mbarara has an ultrasound machine and a cardiotocography machine to monitor the baby’s heart during labor, but the staff didn’t know how to use them until we visited,” says Dr. Rad. They now know how to operate the equipment, but the only resources they have for interpreting the data and images are their textbooks. “That’s not good enough, so we are able to explain to them what certain readings and images mean during our videoconferences. They are still not using the new technology as a standard practice, but we hope to travel there within six months to get it implemented into their medical routine.”
Remote Medicine: Uganda does not have a single maternal-fetal medicine specialist, notes Dr. Rad. “With our monthly videoconference, we are able to give doctors in a remote area of Africa access to specialists at Cedars-Sinai so they don’t have to rely on information on the Internet to solve complex cases.”
For All Women: “If you really believe in being a physician for women, and are passionate and committed to advocating for women and mothers, then you care about women all over the world and not just in the United States. Our residents are learning to have a global health perspective and to treat women and children everywhere—even in areas with little or no resources.”
Education Expansion: Dr. Rad and the team at Cedars-Sinai recently added a teaching hospital in Ghana to their videoconference schedule. “We are also collaborating with maternal-fetal medicine specialists in the United States who are interested in global health,” he says. “Our hope is to expand the number of national and international centers in our field to participate in the videoconferencing.”