Prof. Annette Nakimuli who has previously discovered the gene in African women that pre-disposes them to high blood pressure in pregnancy or preeclampsia will now be studying characteristics of women who are likely to suffer four maternal health related complications so that health workers can intervene early on. The complications include Preeclampsia, pre-term birth, still birth and intra- uterine growth restriction where a baby in the womb does not grow as normally expected.
For the next five years, one of Uganda’s top scientists will
be working to find a solution that could solve the long problem of maternal
mortality where 336 mothers in every 100,000 live births still succumb.
Prof. Annette Nakimuli who has previously identified the gene
in African women that pre-disposes them to high blood pressure in pregnancy or preeclampsia
will now be studying characteristics of women who are likely to suffer four maternal
health related complications such that health workers can intervene early on.
The complications include
Preeclampsia, pre-term birth, still birth and intra- uterine growth restriction
where a baby in the womb (a fetus) does not grow as normally expected.
In an interview with URN on Tuesday, the consultant Obstetrician/ Gynecologist said they plan
to recruit into the study up to 4,000 first time mothers in their first trimester of
pregnancy who will be seeking antenatal care from either Mulago Women’s and
Neonatal or Kawempe National Referral
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She has secured a grant of up to $1million for the project
through a fellowship called Calestous Juma Science Leadership program designed to
support local scientists developing innovations needed to end the pandemic and
address urgent global health priorities such as maternal related complications.
In Uganda, preeclampsia is almost overtaking bleeding as
the number one killer for mothers and the expert says this research comes in
handy to identify not just the genes but also biomarkers in the blood of (including
healthy) women to predict whether they can in future develop these life
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Currently, interventions into these complications are mostly
as a result of noticing symptoms whereby some mothers never get to the health
facilities and yet some get there when it is too late.
The biomarkers if
established in the new study will help in determining not only which medicines
to offer but also which women to watch during the antenatal duration.
Once these tests are complete, in future, Nakimuli who is
also the Dean School of Medicine says will go into randomized trials that may
result into an actual intervention into care.
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However, even before we get there, the researcher says they
are helping the Ministry of Health develop a prevention framework to help
thousands of mothers already
experiencing these complications especially
preeclampsia as bleeding has to some
extent been addressed.
They have so far completed a needs assessment study and are
establishing a knowledge and perceptions gap among both patients and health
workers on treating the pregnancy related high blood pressure.