Shining the Spotlight on Pre-eclampsia
UKZN’s Placental Research Group, chaired by Professor Thajasvarie (Anita) Naicker in the School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences hosted a successful Pre-eclampsia Day.
This group is fortunate to be mentored by the eminent Professor Jagidesa Moodley who is a world-renowned expert on pre-eclampsia.
This was one of many planned series of public events planned for May aimed at increasing awareness of this life-threatening hypertensive disorder of pregnancy.
Pre-eclampsia complicates up to 12% of all pregnancies in SA with a 14% mortality rate. This awareness event featured international guest speakers, and UKZN postgraduate students who showcased their research on Pre-eclampsia.
‘We believe there is a need to improve awareness; educate women on signs and symptoms of this condition; encourage early health seeking and understand the underlying aetiology of pre-eclampsia in South Africa. Our mission is to contribute towards understanding the pathogenesis underlying Pre-eclampsia development’ said Naicker.
Amongst the invited international speakers, was Dr Ismail Bhorat whose talk: Pre-eclampsia and the Fetus, explored the role of the fetus in the pathogenesis of pre-eclampsia aetiology. Bhorat has pioneered fetal surgical procedures in the country and his special interest lies in fetal cardiac haemodynamics as a tool in fetal surveillance in high-risk pregnancies.
Dr Cheryl Winkler, a Human Geneticist and Senior Principal Scientist in the Molecular Genetic Epidemiology Section at the National Cancer Institute in the United States of America, was another speaker at the event. Her talk on Fetal APOL1 Genotype and Pre-eclampsia explored how most common variants associated with common diseases such as Pre-eclampsia or chronic kidney disease have very small effect sizes but genetic variants in genes that protect against diseases caused by lethal pathogens have the potential to be both highly prevalent and to have strong effect sizes.
Dr Manu Vatish from Oxford University, United Kingdom, presented a talk on Extracellular Microvesicles in Pre-eclampsia. Vatish is the Senior Clinical Fellow and Consultant in the Nuffield Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Oxford and Oxford University Hospitals National Health Service Trust. Vatish is also involved in acute obstetrics at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford. His basic research interest is in placental function in gestational diabetes and Pre-eclampsia.
Bhorat and Naicker appeared on the coveted - Walk the Talk - Lotus FM radio show hosted by Alan Khan, a show that was voted the “Best News and Actuality Talk Show” in 2017. Additionally, Moodley was interviewed by the Daily News on raising awareness about pre-eclampsia development.
‘We need to remember that the right to health is a human right and the health of a nation is determined by the health of its women, newborns and children,’ said Naicker.
Words: Lihle Sosibo