MRCG AT LSHTM Holds Open Days in North Bank Region for the PRECISE Study in The Gambia

The Medical Research Council Unit The Gambia at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine has concluded a series of Open Days on the PREgnancy Care Integrating Transitional Science, Everywhere (PRECISE) Study. The sessions, which sought to raise community awareness about the study, were held in Farefenni, Ngayen Sanjal, and Illiassa from 1st to 3rd April 2019.

Annually, pregnancy hypertension, fetal growth restriction (FGR), and stillbirth unrelated to intrapartum events are associated with 46,000 maternal, and 2.5 million fetal, neonatal and infant deaths. Over 99% of these deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and over half in sub-Saharan Africa. The PRECISE consortium was created to address this area of neglected global health research, targeting up to 10,000 pregnant women in The Gambia, Mozambique and Kenya.

The MRC Unit The Gambia at the LSHTM is one of the three recruiting sites of the PRECISE consortium. In The Gambia, 2,000 pregnant women (1,000 in rural Farafenni and 1,000 in Farafenni town) will be recruited during their antenatal care visits and followed-up until 6 weeks post-delivery, to determine the prevalence of placental disorders and associated risk factors.

The Open Days provided an opportunity for communities to engage and interact with the PRECISE team members in The Gambia, and learn more about the upcoming study.

In his remarks, Dr. Ogochukwu Ofordile, the project clinical coordinator explained the dynamics of the project, including the different focus areas, and the target groups for the collection of data and samples for the study. “The opportunity to begin to address one of the greatest global health inequalities concerning women and children in our Sub-Saharan communities is an exciting one. Their understanding of the importance of the study was clear in the reception accorded to the PRECISE open day team, and positive messages pledging full support to ensure the success of the study”, he said.

Dr. Anna Roca, co-Principal Investigator for the study, who attended the meeting in Ngayen Sanjal, said, “It is important to understand what the main drivers of placental disorders in Africa are, and this is what the study aims to do. We have a very strong and dedicated team and need the collaboration of the community as well as local stakeholders to ensure the success of the study, that eventually will translate into improving delivery outcomes in The Gambia”

The first session in Farafenni was also attended by the Governor of the North Bank Region, Ebrima Dampha, District Chiefs, traditional and religious leaders, as well as the Director of Operations of the MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM, Joan Vives Tomas. Residents of satellite villages were also present, and messages were shared through traditional means of communication including songs and drama pieces.

The MRC Unit The Gambia will continue to engage with community members to enhance understanding of the PRECISE study, and facilitate greater participation to ensure that the primary objective of describing the extent of placental disorders in women attending antenatal care in centers representative of urban and rural African communities, as well as other objectives of the study, are realised.