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Catholic Healthcare recognises International Women's Day

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Catholic Healthcare at Macquarie Park was delighted to welcome Dr Andrew Browning AM as guest speaker of its International Women’s Day event today, providing an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women and reflect on how we can support those in need.

Dr Browning works with his aunt Valerie Browning AM to support a team of women’s health and maternity specialists providing life-saving obstetric and gynaecological care to women across Africa and Nepal, through the Barbara May Foundation.

The organisation was named after Valerie’s mother who believed no woman in the modern world should die in childbirth. The Foundation runs projects that relieve the high incidence of death and extreme injury in pregnancy and childbirth. They provide access to caring and knowledgeable maternal health professionals who treat all women with patience, respect and cultural sensitivity. The primary focus of their programmes is safer childbirth, the delivery of live babies, and mothers not dying or injured during childbirth.

“Around the world, approximately 800 women die every day from birth-related injuries,” says Dr Browning. “Almost all maternal deaths (99%) occur in developing countries and more than half of these are in sub-Saharan Africa. For every death, another 30 women suffer from debilitating life-threatening birth-related injuries.

“The majority of our programmes focus on women living in rural areas and among poorer communities. Care is provided to those in need regardless of race, religion or financial capacity.”

Dr Browning also undertakes extensive work treating women suffering from old, untreated obstetric fistula injuries which is estimated to be approximately two million in Africa. In the developed world, the injury would be prevented by a caesarean section. This intervention is often unavailable to many women in remote and poor regions and they can labour for up to 10 days causing terrible injury, usually a stillborn child, and in the worst cases, death. Often women go untreated for years, suffering ongoing pain, degradation and isolation.

Dr Browning’s presentation was followed by a morning tea where donated cakes were auctioned to the highest bidder – with all proceeds going to the Barbara May Foundation.

To find out more about the Barbara May Foundation, please visit

Dr Browning is pictured with Julie Toma, Director of Marketing and Communications of Catholic Healthcare and a Board Member of the Barbara May Foundation