MRC Festival 2019 Presenter Series: Dr. Uduak Okomo, Saving Newborns from Infections

Dr. Uduak Okomo will discuss how newborns get infection, the types of serious infections in newborns, and what we do when infection is suspected; and finally, how we can prevent newborns from getting infection.

Her work focuses on better measurement of and reduction in the burden of maternal and newborn mortality in developing countries.

Serious infections – sepsis, meningitis and pneumonia – represent one of the three major global causes of newborn deaths, particularly in West Africa. Understanding the routes of transmission of infection to newborns is key to designing appropriate prevention strategies.

Her research has defined routes of transmission of infections to neonates in The Gambia using cutting edge scientific methods, pointing to hospital/facility acquired transmission rather than maternal or community acquisition. This finding has important implications for shaping policy by showing where infection control strategies could be applied to prevent the occurrence of neonatal infections in The Gambia, with implications for reducing over one million neonatal deaths in sub-Saharan Africa.

For Dr. Okomo, the greatest satisfaction as a pediatrician comes from seeing the relief and joy in the eyes of a mother when she is able to take her once sick newborn home – alive and well.  During the festival, she hopes to share some of the exciting evidence-based research we are doing in the area of neonatal infections, as part of broader efforts to reduce the unacceptably high burden of neonatal mortality in The Gambia.