Speaking with Dr. Karen Cowgill

Karen Cowgill is an epidemiologist based in Seattle. Her main research interests are in the area of maternal and child health, including reducing maternal mortality and improving breastfeeding and child nutrition, infectious and vaccine-preventable diseases of childhood, and parasitic infections. Dr. Cowgill most recently assisted Public Health-Seattle & King County on the COVID-19 response. Her work in Congo on a Fulbright fellowship led to an important publication, co-authored with epidemiologist Prof. Abel Ntambue, “Hospital detention of mothers and their infants at a large provincial hospital: a mixed-methods descriptive case study, Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo” in the journal Reproductive Health.

Dr. Cowgill’s past research with Abel Ntambue was critical to the development of the podcast “Birthing Resistance” and “Akouchman ak Rezistans”.

After working tirelessly with us to translate comments, and think through ideas, Dr. Cowgill kindly sat down with us (remotely) to talk about her own story of researching the problem of hospital detention.

Listen | écoute
 
 

Dr. Cowgill’s Fulbright—originally on a very different topic—was quickly transformed into a project on hospital detention while working at Jason Sendwe Hospital in Lubumbashi. Learn more about her story.

In their article “Hospital detention of mothers and their infants at a large provincial hospital: a mixed-methods descriptive case study, Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo”, Dr. Cowgill and Dr. Ntambue call hospital detention a “gendered violence”. Dr. Cowgill explained how and why hospital detention fits the criteria for gendered violence.

Dr. Karen Cowgill discusses how and why hospital detention is an “open secret” in public health.

Dr. Cowgill gives her take on the ways that hospital detention connects to other birth injustices.