Pregnant women have been urged to donate their placenta for biomedical research in order to help other patients in need.
Research reveals that utilization of the human placenta in science and medicine is essential for advancing knowledge in the areas of reproductive medicine, immunology, stem cell research, genetics, cancer research and tissue engineering.
Dr. Abudu Kunle of the Department of Histopathology, University of Uyo, Akwa-Ibom, made the call in a paper titled: “Pregnant Women Perception of Placenta Donation for Biomedical Research — Experience at a Nigerian Tertiary Healthcare Institution”.
Delivering a lecture in Ilorin, Dr. Kunle disclosed that personal, socio-economic and cultural factors, especially in Africa undermine the willingness of mothers to freely donate their placenta for research purpose.
He said public perception about placenta donation for scientific research is influenced by the interplay of the individual’s attitude, social structures, ethical paradigms, cultural practices, religious beliefs and the public understanding of science and medicine.
Dr. Kunle stressed that in spite of these potential uses of the placenta, little is known about public perception regarding this practice in developing countries.
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.
A 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.
The common practice in Africa is burying 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.
Dr. Kunle further canvassed for good communication and public enlightenment for mothers and healthcare providers to correct the wrong perception to make bio-specimen research successful.
Healthcare providers were also urged to constantly organise enlightenment programmes for mothers across the country.