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Makerere Don Philippa Musoke Awarded for HIV Research

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Makerere University Researcher and Paediatrician Dr. Philippa Musoke (R) receives a plaque from Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Dr. Elioda Tumwesigye (L) for her work in prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission

Makerere University Researcher and Pediatrician Dr. Philippa Musoke has been awarded the 2017 Research and Ethics Award by the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology (UNCST).

The seasoned researcher was recognized during the ongoing Annual National Research Ethics Conference in Kampala for her active involvement in a landmark collaborative research which focused on prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS.

The study discovered an effective and affordable intervention to reduce the number of HIV infections at birth in poor countries.

Dr. Musoke along with her colleagues discovered simpler regiments which demonstrated that single doze Nevirapine if administered to an HIV positive mother at the onset of labor and the infant on delivery, reduced mother-to-child transmission by 50%.

Their study findings would later be incorporated in the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and have enabled worldwide implementation of single doze Nevirapine, subsequently reducing HIV infections in developing countries.

Musoke is an Associate Professor at the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health at Makerere University and Principal Investigator at the Makerere University-John Hopkins University (MU-JHU) Kampala whose research work has spanned over the last 25 years.

“The selection was based on institutional building effort, publishing widely at national and international level, contribution to professional training in bioethics, consistent voluntary service on research ethics committees and raising awareness on research in Uganda,” said Deborah Kasule who represented Uganda National Council for Science and Technology.

In an interview with ChimpReports after receiving the Award, Musoke said their 1999 study results are regarded as a landmark because “for the first time, we had a feasible and cheaper intervention for mother to child transmission of HIV in the developing world”.

“At that time, the people in Europe and America already had an intervention to reduce mother to child transmission using an expensive regimen of AZT drug. This was done starting early in pregnancy intravenously, using caesarean section and give a baby 6 weeks of syrup.”

She said Neverapine was simple because a mother got only one tablet when she starts labor while the newly born baby got one doze of syrup.

It is this very study whose findings informed the decision by government to roll out the PMTCT (Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission) programs which spread across Uganda and have significantly brought down the prevalence of mother to child transmission of the HIV virus.

In reacting to the recognition, Musoke told ChimpReports: “This Award is very important to me. I was excited and honored that people have recognized Ugandan scientific community. I have dedicated many hours and months trying to reach out to improve the health of our mothers and children.”

She gave credit to the late Prof. Francis Mirro her mentor as well as peers with whom she conducted the study in collaboration with Makerere University John Hopkins University (MU-JHU)

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