Call the Midwife: A Half-Century of Advances in Women’s Health

For the past 50 years, the lives of women and babies around the world have been saved and improved thanks to research supported by the UK-based charity Wellbeing of Women. Take this example. Pregnant women now are routinely advised to take folic acid to prevent birth defects. As a newly formed charity back in 1964, Wellbeing of Women provided its first grant of £3,000 to fund the research that delivered this key finding and the rest, as they say, is history.

For this Tanager Talk, we asked Liz Campbell, the Director of Wellbeing of Women, to share her thoughts on the current status of women’s health, the role of private philanthropy in medical research and the areas Wellbeing has in its sights for future support.

According to Liz, we’ve come a long way since 1964 when too many women and babies were dying in childbirth. Thanks to improvements in research, education and training, this is no longer the case. While Wellbeing continues to fund research into areas such as premature birth, it is also involved in investigating the reason for the rising number of gynecological cancers and the impact of the menopause on women in the workplace. The first of its kind, the newly funded menopause project will test an intervention designed to help menopausal women maintain performance at work as well as help companies better support their menopausal employees.

When asked about the big issues to be tackled in women’s health, Liz reports that the rising obesity epidemic seems to take a disproportionate toll on the health of women and is implicated in both the rise in gynecological cancers as well as complications for obese mothers and babies during pregnancy and delivery.

When asked about the role of private philanthropy in medical research, Liz makes the case that while we often think it takes millions to make a difference in healthcare research, the opposite is often the case. For example, she describes a partnership project in El Salvador where a grant of £10,000 a year for 5 years has improved the maternal mortality rate in that country by 38%. She also describes a case where a £20,000 grant investigating uterine rupture as it relates to cesarean section changed national clinical guidelines.

And finally, Liz makes the case for supporting charities such as Wellbeing of Women that seeks to engage donors in exciting and meaningful ways. With a series of events throughout the year – everything from research evenings with top practitioners at leading hospitals, to tea with Downton Abbey’s Julian Fellowes at the House of Lords – the charity provides donors with worthwhile opportunities to improve the health and wellbeing of women.

Coming up this autumn, Wellbeing of Women will be hosting a lunch with Alexander McCall Smith, the creator of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series who will be interviewed by Eve Pollard, author, journalist and Vice Chair of Wellbeing of Women. On October 13, there will be an evening with Fiona Bruce, journalist, newsreader and television presenter. The organization holds an annual Christmas Fair at the magnificent Draper’s Hall in the City of London and there are shopping evenings with Elemis, the luxury British spa and skincare brand, who support a project through Wellbeing of Women that is testing better radiotherapy treatments for young women with cervical cancer. Liz even offers to take interested individuals to meet the doctors in London hospitals where Wellbeing funds research. More information on these upcoming events can be found here.

You can hear the complete interview with Liz Campbell filled with insights on women’s health here. You can learn more about Wellbeing of Women on their website, you can follow them on Twitter @WellbeingofWmen and join their Facebook page here


You can find all of Tanager Talks interviews on iTunes by searching for Tanager Wealth.

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