Voices of MEPI Junior Faculty fellows: Dr George Gwako
March / April 2021 | Volume 20 Number 2
Photo courtesy of University of Nairobi
Dr. George Gwako
OB/GYN and lecturer
University of Nairobi, Kenya
As told to Susan Scutti
For obstetricians, nothing is more disheartening than losing a mother during childbirth or seeing a mother or couple lose a baby. In my
Medical Education Partnership Initiative Junior Faculty Research Training (MEPI-Jr) project, I examined why stillbirth is still so prevalent in Kenya and determined the risk factors.
My study showed the prevalence of stillbirth in Kenya is 35 in every 1,000 deliveries, compared with 20 to 100 across Africa and 1 to 3 in the U.S. One of the main drivers of stillbirth in Kenya is preeclampsia, my study showed. Other factors are antepartum hemorrhage, diabetes mellitus and prematurity, and there are associations with anemia and HIV.
Through the fellowship program, I took courses in data collection and data analysis so I applied what I learned directly to my project. In general, I learned practical skills, including grant and manuscript writing, grant management, and new leadership and mentoring methods.
Importantly, the fellowship provided me with time as well as funds to conduct my research. I had both local and international mentors, which opened my eyes to the unique health challenges in each setting. Having done research with topnotch scientists, I now participate in WHO projects as a co-investigator. Together with other fellows, I formed a consortium of African researchers, the Stillbirth Advocacy and Research in Africa Hub (SARAH), which aims to understand prevalence, risk factors and possible prevention interventions that can work in our unique contexts.
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