Prof.Gahutu's inaugural lecture at Remera Campus

OXYGEN AVAILABILITY TO TISSUES: PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS

The lecture highlights the role of genetic, environmental, parasitic and nutritional factors in determining the capacity of blood to transport sufficient oxygen to tissues, based on the concentration of hemoglobin and its saturation with oxygen.

Genetic abnormalities of hemoglobin (sickle cell anemia, thalassemia) are encountered in a low proportion of Rwandan children (Huye district) and imply a minor risk of anemia.

At moderate altitude (Huye, 1,768 m) the atmospheric pressure is lower than at sea level, resulting in lower partial pressure of oxygen in the inspired air. However slight chronic hyperventilation ensures a relatively sufficient level of partial pressure of oxygen in arterial blood, which ensures same level of hemoglobin saturation with oxygen as at sea level based on hemoglobin-oxygen binding properties.

This slight hyperventilation lowers the partial pressure of carbon dioxide in arterial blood. However, there is complete renal compensation with lowering of bicarbonate concentration in arterial blood, resulting in same arterial pH as at sea level.

Overall, moderate altitude results in limited physiological changes, with no pathologic condition.

Malaria is highly prevalent in children under five years of age in Rwanda and is an important cause of anemia, hence the need to strengthen malaria control.

Iron deficiency affects more than 1.5 billion people worldwide, particularly pregnant women and children under five years of age in low-income countries. It results in iron-deficiency anemia, with consequences of growth retardation, cognitive impairment, increased morbidity and poor pregnancy outcome. Intensive research is going on to develop crops that have high iron content, which if consumed on wide scale, could prevent iron-deficiency anemia. Such crops can be obtained by biofortification through natural plant breeding. We evaluated the effect of different inhibitors of iron absorption from beans in a series of absorption studies conducted at Huye campus. These studies showed an advantage of biofortified beans over normal beans to ensure higher absorption of iron. An efficacy study, in which participants consumed beans during five months showed an advantage of biofortified beans over normal beans to improve the iron status of the blood. In conclusion, biofortification of beans constitutes a promising approach to prevent iron-deficiency anemia.

A group photo after Prof Gahutu's inaugural lecture

Prof.Gahutu during his innagural lecture

DVC Academic Affairs Prof.Nelson Ijumba

Prof.Stephen Rulisa, The Dean of the School of Medicine and Pharmacy attended the lecture