Dr Abudu Kunle of the Department of Histopathology, University of Uyo, Akwa-Ibom, has urged pregnant women to donate their placenta for biomedical research.
Kunle made the call in a paper titled: “Pregnant Women Perception of Placenta Donation for Biomedical Research — Experience at a Nigerian Tertiary Healthcare Institution’’.
The expert, who delivered a lecture in Ilorin, said that the donated placenta would not only benefit medical research, but the findings would benefit other patients in need.
According to him, personal, socio-economic and cultural factors, especially in Africa undermine the willingness of mothers to freely donate their placenta for research purpose.
He said that a recent survey gave the assent rate at an abysmal 34.1 per cent the number of mothers who accepted to donate their placenta for research.
The don explained that utilisation of the human placenta in science and medicine was essential for advancing knowledge in the areas of reproductive medicine, immunology, stem cell research, genetics, cancer research and tissue engineering.
“In spite of these potential uses of the placenta, little is known about public perception regarding this practice in developing countries.
“Public perception about placenta donation for scientific research is influenced by interplay of the individual’s attitude, social structures, ethical paradigms, cultural practices, religious beliefs and the public understanding of science and medicine,’’ he said.
Kunle explained that research carried out in Benin, South-South Nigeria, indicated that mothers were afraid to donate their placentas because of fear of losing their babies destiny, as well as for religious and traditional beliefs.
According to him, the study revealed that socio-economic factors influencing perception of pregnant women towards placenta donation for biomedical research was education and enlightenment.
He said the common practice in Africa was to bury the placenta and cord in the ground either inside or behind the house or outside in the bush, while some people preferred to burn and throw the placenta into pit latrine.
Kunle canvassed good communication and public enlightenment for mothers and healthcare providers to correct the wrong perception to make bio-specimen research successful.
The don urged healthcare providers to constantly organise enlightenment programmes for mothers across the country.
Kunle explained that this would disabuse false cultural beliefs among pregnant women and help them to understand the advantages of donating placenta for biomedical research.