Prism Series Full Programme with Supporting Links

Prism Series 


The Health of Women Globally 


Library of events in the series. 


INTRODUCTORY EVENT :  International Women's Day on 8th March, 2023. 


Follow this link to the event


This event was held on March 8th, 2023, to celebrate International Women's Day and introduce the Network's new Prism Series on Women's Health Globally, It describes the history of International Women's Day and what the Women's Movement has achieved over the last 120 years or so. This includes a UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. It explores this year's theme of Embracing Equity and disentangles the distinctions between Equality and Equity, placing them in the context of Social Justice. 


Supporting materials 


International Women's Day (Website) 

International Women's Day Background (From the UN) 

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, New York, 18 December 1979(From the UN)

The History of Wives under English Law (Lecture tracing the law back as far as AD 654) 

Custody rights over children (Very brief summary of the changes in the late 1800s)

Equity versus Equality : What's the Difference (Article from the School of Public Health, George Washington University) 






Introduction to the series


Dr John Acres

(Released 4th October, 2023)


Half the people living on the planet are women. Some of their health problems might be described as being related to their biological gender e.g. cervical cancer, menopause, pregnancy. Others, however, are related to the power relationships that exist in society, the prevailing belief systems and cultures. Discrimination, lack of opportunity and frank misogyny all play their part.


This Prism Series aims to unpick many of the issues that affect women’s health across the world and it has been made possible by a collaboration between several academics and NHS staff across Wessex. This introduction will give you some context for the series and introduce you to the Collaborating Group from the Universities as well as the other participants who have contributed.


Follow this link to the event


Listener guidance : This short episode has a few slides, but listening to the audio e.g. using a mobile phone, captures the essence of the episode. 


Supporting information Follow this link for information about contributors to this series.  



Episode 1 




Dr John Acres and Dr Rachel Locke, University of Winchester

(Released on 4th October, 2023)


Homo sapiens struggled to survive for tens of thousands of year and their numbers grew only slowly. Then, just a couple of hundred years ago, the touch-paper of a population explosion was lit and numbers jumped to now reach 8 billion. Why did this happen? Will the population go on growing? What is the impact on health? Why is this relevant to the women’s health?


In this episode, John Acres will describe the changes that have taken place and what is behind them. He will also explain how this knowledge can enable you to predict the broad health needs of women in a country without having to visit or take health measurements.


Follow this link to the event


Listener guidance : This episode has several slides. If listening using a mobile phone, then the additional information provided below will probably be helpful in understanding the overall picture.  


Supporting Information : Follow this link for information about the main causes of death in a Low Income Country compared to a High Income Country, population change and the Demographic Transition Model. 




Episode 2



Dr Sarah Neal, University of Southampton

(Released 18th October, 2023)


We are all delighted at the birth of a new baby, but, for some women, becoming pregnant is a death sentence. Almost 800 women died every day in 2020 from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Around 95% of these deaths were in Low and Middle Income Countries with over half being in sub-Saharan Africa. The improvements that were being made are slowing down and, with Afghanistan having maternal mortality rate over 600/100,000, the chances of achieving the Sustainable Development Goal of 70/100,000 live births by 2030 is fading.


Sarah Neal ( joins us for this episode and will reveal some of the key issues associated with maternal mortality across the world.


Follow this link to the event 


Listener Guidance : This is a sound recording and easy, therefore, to listen to on a mobile phone. There is a slide to view for those who listen via a laptop or other computer. 


Supporting information : 


Slides from Dr Neal : Slides illustrating the points put over in the conversation 

Overview : Key Facts from WHO about maternal mortality

Causes of Death : “Global causes of maternal death: a WHO systematic analysis (2003 – 2012)” The Lancet Global Health

Urban Ruran Differences : "Decomposing the urban–rural inequalities in the utilisation of maternal health care services: evidence from 27 selected countries in Sub-Saharan Africa". Reproductive Health Journal, 30 October 2021

MSc in Global Health : Outline of course in Southampton 




Episode 3 



Dr Sarah Neal, University of Southampton

(Released 1st November, 2023)


All over the world, adolescence is an extended period of human growth and experimentation as children learn how to transition to living as independent adults. It is a period of vulnerability, which brings with it a variety of risks, including those to sexual and reproductive health. These risks are higher where education is low, cultures place women in subservient roles, the age of marriage is traditionally low, there is vulnerability through displacement and access to services is poor.


In this episode Sarah Neal will use her research to draw out the issues involved in the sexual and reproductive health of adolescent girls in Sub-Saharan Africa, a part of the world where both the birth rate in 10 – 14 year olds and the incidence of HIV are high.


Follow this link to the event 


Listener Guidance : This is a sound recording and easy, therefore, to listen to on a mobile phone. There is a slide to view for those who listen via a laptop or other computer. 


Supporting information : 


Systematic Reviews : 

Impact of Covid : Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Adolescents' Sexual and Reproductive Health in Low- and Middle-Income Countries




Episode 4 



Jonny Rust, Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology 


Jonny Rust worked at the University Hospital Southampton as a consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. His exposure earlier in life to the terrible experiences of women in Africa who suffered from vaginal fistulae left a shadow in his memory that he could not ignore. He wanted to do something to help. He left his job in Southampton and, with his family, went to live in Tanzania and work in a small town called Karatu,


What is it like to move from the security of a University Teaching Hospital in the UK to a small hospital in a relatively remote part of a lower middle-income country? In this episode, Jonny describes his experiences, the obstetric challenges faced in rural community in Tanzania and what he has learned from working in this new environment.


To contact Jonny Rust, please e-mail the Network Co-ordinator


Follow this link to the event


Supporting InformationBackground information about Tanzania




Episode 5



Dr Blessing Zamba, Hampshire Hospitals Foundation Trust


We are probably familiar with the image of UK doctors visiting Low-Income Countries to work as part of a health partnership. Although we have many doctors from Low-Income Countries working in the NHS, we know less about what it has been like for them working back in their home country. Perhaps more than anyone, they can give an insight into the challenges faced.


In this episode, Dr Blessing Zamba describes his remarkable journey into medicine to now working with the Hampshire Hospitals Foundation Trust. Born in a village in a remote part of Zimbabwe, his future could have been expected to be no different from the other boys there. But a chance event changed the course of his life. Blessing will describe his journey, medical training in Zimbabwe and the challenges faced by doctors with limited resources working to provide the best maternal healthcare they can for rural populations.


Follow this link to the event


Supporting information : Background information about Zimbabwe




Episode 6



Lorraine Major and Laura Aspinall, Hampshire Hospitals Foundation Trust


Direct obstetric causes of death form 75% of the reasons women die in pregnancy. Serious complications like bleeding or obstructed labour require fast referral and treatment. It is perhaps not surprising that women living in rural areas have higher mortality rates that those in urban and delay in seeking help is one of the delays that result in raised maternal mortality. 


What can be done to overcome these challenges? Lorraine Major and Laura Aspinall from Basingstoke Hospital will describe the work of their Health Partnership with Hoima Hospital, Uganda, to create a Mothers Waiting Room as a step towards reducing maternal mortality.


To be released.