Learning and Leadership: AWHF attends SOGC Conference to Advance Women’s Health

The Alberta Women’s Health Foundation (AWHF) was honoured to have participated in the 80th anniversary conference of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Canada (SOGC). Health experts from across the globe came together to give inspiring and educational speeches sharing the current state of progress and the next steps in driving women’s health forward. To help share the latest knowledge and perspectives with our community, the following overview will highlight some of the most impactful presentations from the conference. 

Canada’s Minister of Health, Honorable Mark Holland, joined the conference to deliver a powerful speech on the importance of opening dialogue around sexuality and strengthening the case for universal contraception in Canada. A topic of which was also discussed by Dr. Amanda Black during her lecture, Accessible Contraception, where she highlighted how the investment in reproductive health is an investment for Canadas future.

Bill C-64 was proposed as a response to the current flaws in Canada’s healthcare system and is part of a national pharmacare framework that would provide coverage of Rx products such as contraception to improve accessibility, affordability, and appropriate use. Dr. Black highlights that “free” contraception implemented by other countries and pilot projects is costing populations significantly less than costs associated with managing unintended pregnancy.

“Birth control is not about sex. Birth control is about having a reproductive life plan.” - Dr. Amanda Black 

During the conference, the AWHF was joined by partners from Organon Canada including President and Managing Director Michael Casia. Organon continues to be a cherished ally as they help support the AWHF in the joint mission of both organizations to advance women’s health, from sponsoring the Surveying the Silence report to including the AWHF in the first ever Women’s Health Policy Roundtable at the U.S. Embassy. With the Edmonton Oilers in the playoffs, the AWHF gifted Michael an Oiler’s Jersey as an honorary member of the Oilers fan club!  

AWHF President and CEO Sharlene Rutherford shared: 

It is an honour to be present at the SOGC Conference, representing the Alberta Women’s Health Foundation and our national partnership through the Women’s Health Collective Canada, as we collectively work to raise critical funding for and awareness of the advancement of women’s health. We strongly believe that every woman deserves access to safe, equitable and high-quality care —and that care must be backed by research tailored to the unique needs of women. We are inspired by the passion and expertise of the many attendees and speakers here and look forward to making progress together. 

AWHF-funded researcher and urogynecologist Dr. Jane Schulz hosted a captivating discussion during the conference to educate the audience on the current landscape of mesh for medical procedures. Dr. Schulz shared her expertise on when mesh should be used for bladder incontinence and prolapse in women who have given birth. Dr. Schulz additionally spoke to the mixed global historical perspectives of potential complications. She explained that “mesh has an intricate history but an exciting future with new research being conducted” referencing new assistance from artificial intelligence to support better treatment for incontinence and prolapse.  

“The biggest challenge is the lack of awareness and stigma around the conditions. One in two women will experience pelvic organ prolapse but no one talks about it, so it becomes challenging to promote information about the prevalence and significance. One in four women will experience incontinence in their lifetime which can lead to significant discomfort and impact on their activity. People feel they cannot talk about it or that surgery is the only solution but that is not the case.” - Dr. Jane Shulz 

Every woman deserves medical care backed by extensive research. Historically, women’s health has been underfunded and overlooked. The AWHF is working hard to change this narrative by funding women’s health research with the Women and Children’s Health Research Institute (WCHRI) that leads to better patient care. You too can help brighten the future of women’s health by donating today.