UK: Zim researcher tackles cervical cancer

via UK: Zim researcher tackles cervical cancer – New Zimbabwe 12/02/2015

UNIVERSITY of Huddersfield researcher Dr Tsitsi Chituku is taking part in a project that seeks to learn more about the genetic factors that make some women more susceptible to cervical cancer.

It was a recent visit to Africa, to carry out a health screening project involving hundreds of women, which helped to shape the emphasis of her research.

A qualified medical practitioner, Dr Chituku last year embarked on a PhD in pharmacy, focussing on cancer drug development.

Now, under the supervision of Professor Roger Phillips, she has decided to concentrate on the genetics of cervical cancer.

“We hope to be able identify polymorphisms in certain genes that may make individuals more susceptible to cervical cancers.  For these people, we can offer screening more regularly and detect signs of the disease earlier,” she said.

The direction now taken by Dr Chituku’s research, encouraged by Professor Phillips, is a direct response to her experiences in December 2014, when she and a GP friend, Dr Fadzai Kanyangarara, decided to return to their native Zimbabwe in order to carry out a cervical cancer screening programme in Karoi, which is Dr Chituku’s hometown.  The goal was to spread awareness of health issues and to help empower local women.

They received funding to cover travel and transport costs via the International Humanitarian Award scheme run by the British Medical Association. A number of pharmacy and medical supply companies donated equipment and a large team of helpers was assembled at Karoi’s general hospital.

They used a simple and cheap but effective technique known as visual inspection with acetic acid – widely deployed in Africa – and the two UK-based doctors were “overwhelmed” by the response, said Dr Chituku.

Early detection

The team tested some 300 women, but awareness of the two-day programme rapidly spread, meaning that even after it had been completed there were still several hundred who wanted to take part.

Now the two doctors hope to secure the backing for a repeat project in Zimbabwe, switching the emphasis to rural areas, where there is currently no access to testing facilities.

Cervical cancer has been increasing in Africa, said Dr Chituku, and one theory is that women have a greater pre-disposition to the disease because of the prevalence of the HPV and HIV viruses in parts of the continent.

Now back in the UK, Dr Chituku is immersed in her research that could lead to earlier and more effective detection and treatment of cervical cancer.

She obtained her first degree, in bio-chemistry, in Zimbabwe, before relocating to the UK for her training in medicine at Warwick Medical School.

A trainee surgeon, she has practiced in Coventry and, most recently Huddersfield, before switching to pharmacy research at the town’s University.

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 5
  • comment-avatar
    farai 6 years ago

    One hopes government was aware approved and supervised this study. Why would research being done in th UK require raw data from Zimbabwe? The outbreak of Ebola in Liberia was preceeded by a 10 year study on haemorrhage fevers by a team from Tullane University in Texas. When the epidermic broke out, the project shut down and relocated.

  • comment-avatar
    farai 6 years ago

    One hopes government was aware approved and supervised this study. Why would research being done in th UK require raw data from Zimbabwe? The outbreak of Ebola in Liberia was preceeded by a 10 year study on haemorrhage fevers by a team from Tullane University in Texas. When the epidermic broke out, the project shut down and relocated.
    Clearly Dr Chituku is a mere Phd candidate and the lead person is Professor Roger Phillips. 10 years from now when we get an inexplicable spike in cases of cervical cancer in Karoi, who will remember this story?

    • comment-avatar

      Well said Farai. Most of our countrymen, obsessed with anything that is of overseas origin, would not see thru what you have wisely observed. This is one of the many cases where hapless Africans are used as genuine pigs, and often at very high risk. Furthermore, Africans are always the last ones to taste the fruits of any such research whenever it bears fruits – and often they don’t even afford to pay for the products of those researches. The other point my dear, is that, there is no government to talk about in our country when it comes to matters of public interest and/or safety. I wouldn’t be surprised if the researchers where cleared, which most likely is the case, by the so-called government without being asked any questions. In any case most of those people who seems to be doing well overseas are linked to high profile government/zanu pf people.

  • comment-avatar
    Hlatshwayo 6 years ago

    @Farai, there was no study done on brain chemistry done in the area you were growing up in I wonder?

    It could explain your otherwise inexplicable brain damage?

  • comment-avatar
    farai 6 years ago

    Mr Hlatshwayo, I believe u r trying to insult me. I wonder why? Seeing as there is no justification to your lame insult its safe to assume u spend your life scouring the net in search of targets to insult, I will not burst your bubble.

    By the way, the correct English is “area you grew up in” and not “area you were growing up in” An unintended consequence of free education perhaps?