The Future of Medicine

An in-depth look at the cutting edge technologies changing medicine, including shining a light on maternal mortality.
19:14 | 12/17/18

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Transcript for The Future of Medicine
Anybody M annaly round for ABC news live and you are watching it reporter's notebook addition. Today we're talking with the editor in chief of National Geographic about a really exciting issue coming out. It's you can get in just a couple of weeks on newsstands or whimpering and introduced Susan Goldberg who leaves the editor in chief at this story and the magazine that we will be talking about today. And also joining has said via satellite is will India Gary L the photographer for this particular piece. A fascinating subject a lot to break down and get into for you while we're talking about a particular story in the magazine called of maternal mortality. Diving into an issue I think it's so surprising for so many in the US to hear that be at the mortality rates. Among mothers in the US wanted to only two developed countries were that rate. Is not filling out sec crack. It is correct unfortunately Emily in effect the rate is going off. And our country in Slovenia have seen the rates of maternal mortality. Rise since 1990. And we are far from the best when it comes to developed countries in terms of the deaths of women. In in childbirth it's really pretty appalling I don't think many people know about it that's why we decided to do a story about. If you bring up this topic with people they certainly don't and almost it's like a push back the facts like I don't know you must not be real we had such advanced medicine here in the US. Oh is that the reaction you're getting from people also part of what you're doing. Well and that's why we decided to put it in our issue our whole issue was called the future of medicine and it is all about this amazing. Medicine that can target what's wrong with you individually all this breakthrough stuff in yet here is one of them. Oldest problems known to humankind and women are still dying in alarming rates particularly women of color in the United States. Interesting and then let's bring in Lindsey aid area in lines and thank you so much for joining us via satellite for days so you're really on the ground talking with. At women but also the families and in some cases that they have left behind can you tell us about your experience. Yeah I mean maternal mortality. The subject have been covering for about ten years now I've worked pretty extensively on the topic around the world. And Sierra Leon Afghanistan. I'd get a little work in Haiti and so for me was very interesting to look at America. My own country and sew for this story I traveled all around. We started in the nation's capital we were in DC because we felt like. It's incredibly. Poignant and important to point out that there are women dying in large numbers in Washington DC. That should not be the case obviously they've recently close to hospital. That serve lowing come families in DC and so a woman I met one woman who for example was full term. And she was experiencing cramping and she did not have twenty dollars for an Hoover to get to the nearest hospital because they'd close the hospital close to her. So she waited the next she waited. About 36 hours when she had a voucher to go first scheduled appointment. And the baby was dead by the time she got to the hospital I mean that to me is completely heartbreaking. Apple in the heart break around this story and this topic I have to imagine was very emotional. I would ask PCs in about interns and build the why behind its what do you want found what are some of the major factors. Behind this really alarming and troubling statistics. Well I mean you find women dying in childbirth for everything from. Heart problems to infections to hypertension and stroke but what you really find in these. Our communities of color in the United States women dying at higher rates. Because they're not getting the right medical care they're not getting enough medical care here's the problem that Lindsay just mentioned. You know about not enough money to get to the hospital but I think we've got to be honest and look at issues. Bias whether it's unconscious bias or actual bias communication problems that are going on and yeah we've assault with Serena Williams of all people talking about how she felt when she gave birth that people in the hospital. We're paying attention to her when she said hey up got a problem here. And she ran into some serious medical issues luckily everything came out all right in the end but she felt like. People weren't paying attention to her and that can lead to deadly consequence. And you think of how that might have then he she didn't have the voice that she that he does have at. Another story example that is really struck by you won't tell the story a cure Johnson so beautifully and Los Angeles who. Who die and this was not a woman this is not a case of not having enough money to get that Cooper she weighs. Very well educated at economically sound they were at the one of the very best hospital to check in the act and and she's she's still dying from birth. It is it is such a bit distressing story in. You know that we told and Lindsay photographed it so beautifully. But he was a woman who say more got a problem and her husband is saying hey my wife is having a problem but he is you know African American man. Felt like and he told us this he didn't feel like he could get too upset because he was worried. That you know he'd be dragged out of the room in and arrested and thrown in jail and she ended up dying and it is just a heartbreaking story. And it's a terrifying scenario I think for. Mothers for families to be going into this for us to be the most with the kind of earthquake and it is certainly. But you know you're going into the hospital into the health care stacked system that may be has he species. Is very scary I would think for families and and Lindsay is sort of on that seem. The same line of questioning. Among the families that you mad and the winning and and the husbands the fathers and other partners at that were left behind in some of these cases when the woman died. What did you seek common threads where there where there are things that stay down TU. Across the different at economic landscape there they that you noticed. Yeah I mean I think. Overall their voices are not being heard you know I think a woman knows her own body I think someone knows when something that's not righty. You know in the case of Charles and cure Charles you know they requested a cat scanned. A CT scan and it took hours for that to take place and they brought her into surgery without ever doing that's cannon and she ended up. You know having the having an extraordinary amount of blood in her abdomen and died and soak. She should not have to wait in one of the country's best hospitals hours and hours to have that Scania as he noticed blood and her calf that are very early on. I think you know there's a story of Nicole black and her daughter died after having a caesarean section. And you know estate called her daughter found her mother slumped over the tub with her mouth foaming called the grandmother Nicole black called my mom one. There were a series of you know there's a little discrepancy I furthers a little sort of each person has their own side and Nicole says one of the first questions they asterisk do you have 600 dollars for an ambulance without even taking her daughter's vitals I mean. That to me in that moment when she told me that story I just broke down I'm way out I mean I was so. Emotional because how can you ask someone to you have enough money I mean to me it's like Harpring can. Now and I think important to point out that you are no strangers to photographing and documenting very difficult situation ends. But clearly it's emotional it's something it especially anyone and can relate to. How does it compare I know very different topics but if lecture that. I mean look. It it's it's it's heartbreaking watching anyone die am watching anyone talk about losing loved ones. I guess what shocking to me is that it's happening in America it's my own country. The racism that still persists and United States is. Is really extraordinary and I've lived abroad now for twenty years Hamas Stan and I guess I'm just a stranger to that I just didn't realize that so I think. You know for me as a journalist for me is a photojournalist the important thing is to tell these stories to get the message out and do hope that you know. There will be change and our policy I also know. You know one thing that's very important to talk about here is post Natal care you know it's not only dangerous up to delivery it's six weeks after delivery that things can go wrong and and people you know people think once they give birth well that's it you know I had my son in London. I had a midwife sponsored by an H asked the government here come to my house about six times after I gave her. They came to me the day after three days after five days after ten days after. There you know it's unbelievable that system and that as for every woman who gives birth in England. So you know to me that's something we need to think about America because women are falling through the cracks here. And what they want to point out quickly before getting to more of the US and the difference is the EC across different countries I think it's important to. You really point out they not only is there racial disparity were you have African American mothers who are dying. It more often three times as likely to die from childbirth complications or pregnancy complications than white women in the United States three times. Three times and it's that is a pretty astonishing statistic you know I think the fact that there's fort there are fourteen women. In the United States who died for every 100000 lives for live births in his Lindsey pointed out that is within about a 42. Day span after giving birth. That is a priests shocking statistics. In its course it's not nearly as bad as the worst countries you know I think Sierra Leone in Africa is the worst country. I believe that's more than thirteen hundred women dying. For every 100000 live births but it's still way too high for the United States and then you look at the racial disparities. And and you know that there is something. Really wrong going on in our system. One of the things I think we can learn from this story is how. You know certain African countries are doing better than we are on some measures not by the numbers but instituting things like what Lindsay was talking about. Having these midwives come in there over and over again helping women that really works to lower maternal mortality. I was gonna ask and not just stay in those countries that are less developed to Blake you know as Lindsey pointed out when she had heard her child in London. What other differences are you seeing that that stand out as if things that maybe the United States is not embracing as much as they should be. Well I mean when you see countries that have got much more universal health care can you see lower rates of maternal mortality he and the UK in Germany in Canada in Ireland in of all kinds of countries that have much lower rates than the United States reducing that consistency. Of health care and it is in a matter of economics women are still getting care. He changed things. And I certainly don't know comparatively but I eat it you you hear about women in the US having children. Older and some of those pregnancies are you are seeing many of them may be labeled high risk. Does that factor into this I mean is in fact part of the story here. Well it is true that women as they get older do face a higher risk. For themselves and I also think for their children you know. How much I think that women in in Germany and some of these other western nations have are delaying childbirth as well. And so I can't I'm not exactly sure how much that that factors into the US numbers but I do know that the older you are. The higher your chance of statistically speaking of course of having a complication in your pregnancy a reason. Risking your own life. Variant and saying and I think act and maybe Lindsay you can speak today's I thought it was fascinating in the article where you while explain. Day not only is this is this pervasive racism that we still see Indy US. But the other other factor that was mentioned ends at I think were called weathering and terms I've just being. Person stands and be con stands. Absolutely and that you know the writer on the story Rachel Jones was it was incredible because we worked on this as a team and we went everywhere as a team and you know there were some situations we walked into frankly I as a white woman that I could not have walked into without Rachel because. You know if there there is a lot of anger right now you know there is a lot of daily racism that goes on. Women are sort of dismissed if they say they're in pain may in you know there's this sort of and the misconception as well women of color can have a higher tolerance for pain you know which is all I mean unbelievable you know and I actually had. I met with a group of medical professionals in Saint Louis who admitted to that you know they said. It's and we are responsible we need to reevaluate how we approach women of color. So there are you know the weathering there are. Daily stresses that it you know maybe increase blood pressure may be you know they affect a woman's pregnancy because she stressed all the time. You know and I think it's really important to look at that. Un and to looking and we also I photographed the delivery of of Cynthia who was homeless you know she was a woman who is homeless there was another woman John tell who was homeless. You know these are massive stress is an imagine you're carrying a baby you're about to deliver and you still don't have a secure place to take that child home. I mean those are things that will affect your pregnancy. Was it hard for you to separate the emotions as you were covering this story. I mean I'm not very good at separating my machine usually a very passionate about things and I feel very strongly in. And that's why I found myself as I am in now full line to these stories because I believe there really important Sam. You know IA I am very emotional when I work MIA you know I talk to people Blankfein also do very. A lengthy interviews. You know I if I may just jump that I think this is one of the things that makes Lindsay such a great photographer in so many of our National Geographic photographers so exceptional because. You know they are putting themselves into incredible situations they are. Living with people they are experiencing what people are going through. And then they are capturing yet so everybody else can understand in a visceral way what's going on around the world whether that's the no animal poaching or climate change or stories like this about what's happening to people. And you see in every one of those those images were seen a couple of them pop up on the screen be emotional so real and so rock. And again I think speaks to the fact that. I think readers are going to be shocked that base is. This is going I'm that this has been that people don't know about. That's right so here we've got all this breakthrough medicine and oldest the oldest disease in the world the oldest you know. Reason for you people have died is still happening the other one of the other stories we cover in the issue. Involves Chinese medicine. And how we're finding out how some of these very ancient remedies high tech is now telling us some of these ancient remedies are some of the best so we've really got the gamut. Looking at medicine overall. Very interesting and do you find it keep that down. That health care system is starting to address the issue or is it still one of those sneaky. Under the radar type thanks well I think. That's part of our responsibility and one of the things that we can do as journalists. And I know Lindsay fills us as well to bring this issue forward to shine a spotlight on an issue in a way that people can't ignore it right and this is how you get things to change and I'm. I'm a journalist I really believe that and I think one of our main roles is to inform people so people can take informed action and we can create change positive change. Is there anything that really surprise you aside from this just holds story. But as you were working with the journalists on the story what if anything really surprise you well I think I was surprised. I'm that the US wasn't great when it came to rates of maternal mortality I mean we're sort of in you know upper upper end of developed countries. I was really surprised that our rates of maternal mortality have gone off that just shocked the heck out of me because that just tells you something. He's really going wrong in your maybe it is about the lack of health care maybe it is not income inequality may be it is about. Implicit racial bias but I was pretty astounded that the rates are increasing instead of decrease in. And Lindsay Elena gave you a chance both of you that Lindsay you eat any final thoughts that you like to share about this piece. Yeah I mean I think you know one thing we did with this piece is also look at Somaliland because we wanted to look at a country that was making change and and for the better and so. There's doctor Edna there and she has an unbelievable curriculum she's had a great history she as First Lady and she's she's. It was midwife and a doctor and she's amazing and so. Her sort of life's mission has been to train midwives across Somaliland. So that. To help reduce the rate of maternal death in the country and so. I was in this sort of remote hospital. And documenting maternal health and photographing births and you know and some me I watched a woman she was brought in in a Rick shot a three Wheeler. And carried in semi conscious and delivered the baby right away in front of me. And the baby was still born and so I was shooting an Andy you know and then suddenly I looked down and she was hemorrhaging and there was. But you know blood was pouring out of her and that is not the first time I've seen that I've seen that and I literally watched a woman die as I was filming on camera. So this is the third time I've seen swimming -- that. And I just thought my heart sank and I sci. Of course this is where she dies and and I was so sort of just shooting and depressed and I said to the midwife you know Fries. She's bleeding and she looked down and she she stopped and she didn't panic and she when she got a shot she called the doctor. And they stopped her hemorrhaging and she may have and we interviewed her few days later and soon that is really really the power of training midwives and to get. People trained so that women can survive have postpartum hemorrhage. Teams like some very clear lessons to be learned from. Those on a country. And that picture that Lindsay that situation that Lindsay just described that as of one of the more heart rending photographs hanging in the magazine and I am. You know so happy that we show people are really hard picture like that in a tough picture in this case it's so good that there was I. A happy outcome that this woman to Indiana. Think we asked. When you see at picture you are in the room oh yeah it is unbelievable success. All right well thank you so much Lindsey and the area we appreciate you being made fast and Susan Goldberg the editor in chief of National Geographic and this is an episode of reporters know plus I'm annaly route for ABC news Lyon thanks for joining us have a great day.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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