Twelve registrars from the College of Health Sciences’ Discipline of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (O&G) delivered research presentations before a panel of judges, academics and colleagues at this year’s Annual Registrar Research Day on the Medical School campus.

Their studies were conducted in KwaZulu-Natal-based tertiary hospitals as part of the registrar programme.

Dr Rochelle Pillay scooped first prize for an audit she conducted of the interpretation of intrapartum cardiotocographs by health care professionals in the Pietermaritzburg area, while Dr Kas Govender secured second place for her study which focused on the prevalence of low bone mass density in young women presenting with amenorrhoea – the absence of menstrual bleeding at a reproductive age.

Prolonged amenorrhoea indicates low oestrogen levels - oestrogen is the hormone which also helps women to absorb calcium.

Govender’s study found that women with amenorrhoea were an at-risk population for osteoporosis - a bone disease - which she said was a major public health concern needing early recognition, diagnosis and treatment in country.

The third prize went to Dr Emmanuel Sibanda whose study assessed the knowledge, attitudes and practices of health professionals in Pietermaritzburg public health institutions on emergency contraception (EC). The study found that although participants had some knowledge of EC, they lacked accurate information hence there was a need to address this in order to improve patient care and combat KwaZulu-Natal’s infectious disease burden.

Professor Jayanthilall Bagratee, who heads the O&G Discipline, said research played a critical role in improving the health and wellbeing of women and infants globally. It also focused the sister professions on addressing the specific challenges and needs of the province and country.

Bagratee said this was in line with the United Nations Millennium Development Goals 4, 5 and 6 which aim for the significant reduction of child mortality, improved maternal health and combating major diseases by 2015.

The judges lauded Dr Okezie Ameachina, a Registrar at King Edward VIII Hospital (KEH VIII), who conducted a “topical” cross-sectional survey of patients’ attitudes to vaginal examination (VE) chaperone at KEH VIII Hospital.

Participants felt that this was an intimate and intimidating examination, with the majority reporting that nurses, and sometimes mothers, were preferred chaperones; especially if the healthcare practitioners were men.

Other topics included: “an audit of perinatal outcomes in HIV infected and non-infected teenagers in a regional hospital in the Midlands of KwaZulu-Natal”; “the prevalence of precancerous cervical lesions in pregnancy at KEH VIII in HIV positive and negative patients”; and “a clinical profile of women with symptomatic fibroid uteri in Durban”.

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