Meet the CIPHER fellows

Jane Namangolwa Mutanga

Year awarded: 2017
Institution: Macha Research Trust, Zambia
Research site: Livingstone Central Hospital, Choma, Zambia
Primary mentor: Philip Thuma, Macha Research Trust, Zambia

Jane Namangolwa Mutanga is a medical doctor and epidemiologist. She works at Livingstone Central Hospital and Macha Research Trust, Zambia. Her work has focused on improving health outcomes for women living with HIV and their children.

More information on Jane | Email

“My hope is to build a generation of healthy children in Africa who are not incapacitated by their ancestor’s exposures to disease and extreme poverty. Children born to women living with HIV have unique health-related needs which must be met so that they too can navigate education and other opportunities that allow them to function fully and contribute to society.”

Research project: Long term health outcomes and survival of perinatally HIV exposed children in Zambia: Designing a comprehensive model of care for long term follow-up

The issue

Zambia has one of the highest HIV burdens, with prevalence among women aged 15-59 years at 14.9%. These women are at the reproductive age, which means that about 15% of babies born in Zambia are HIV exposed. The PMTCT programme does a good job of ensuring universal cART for all pregnant women living with HIV, and the early infant diagnosis programme is making significant strides in identification of infants with perinatally acquired HIV. However, there is no focus on the long-term care of perinatally HIV-exposed but uninfected children and adolescents (PHEU). For children on ART, clinical monitoring is mainly focused on ensuring adherence and viral suppression.

There are no well-designed mechanisms to follow up PHEU in Zambia. The follow up for infants with perinatally acquired HIV remains focused on cART; it does not fully take into account growth and development and non-medication-related needs of children.

The CIPHER project

Dr Mutanga will design a prospective cohort study within the Ministry of Health’s PMTCT, paediatric and adolescent HIV clinic setting. The specific aim of her research is to describe and assess the effect of HIV and ART exposure on physical growth and neurocognitive development. She will compare the risk of adverse birth outcomes among three groups of children and study their growth and neurocognitive development using key laboratory markers and validated neurocognitive assessment tools.

The impact

Dr Mutanga envisions building on and strengthening the systems for data collection, retention, long-term client follow up and systematic evaluation of physical growth and neurocognitive development using laboratory measures and validated tools. The aim is to develop a disease surveillance system for HIV and ART exposure outcomes.