The National Academy of Medicine awarded the 2021 Ministry of Public Health Award to research on “The effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on the risk of prematurity and reduced fetal growth during pregnancy”, led by Dr. Leonel Briozzo, together with a multidisciplinary team made up of Stephanie Viroga, Giselle Tomasso, Fernando Filgueira, doctors Virginia Cardozo, Clara Niz, Fernanda Nozar, Hugo Selma, Josefina Tarigo, Analía Grenno, Pablo Gesuele and Daniel Borbonet.
Briozzo, is a Full Professor of the Gynecological Clinic A, of the University of the Republic (UDELAR), head of the Maternity Department of the Pereira Rossell Hospital Center and founder and current president of the professional association “Initiatives Sanitary”.
In his speech, he thanked the authorities present for the distinction, and referred to the inspiration of the work in homage to Augusto Turenne, the first Uruguayan professor of gynecology, “who generated the very name of the profession and who always had a special concern for the social problems surrounding the reproductive process and the importance of the social vision of obstetrics”.
He related the process in which the team has been working for ten years on studies on the subject of prematurity and growth restriction. “We have developed some original hypotheses that prove that they have a common basis in what we called unfavorable maternal environments for human reproduction, and that they are related to inequality, environmental issues or maternal stress linked, for example, to the epidemic of violence. based on gender that is lived in our country”.
Referring to the approach of the award-winning study, the professor and head of Maternity Hospital Pereira Rosell also warned about “alterations in the diet, food and microbiota of pregnant women, taking into account that Uruguay is the country with the highest obesity in pregnant women”, referring to the fact that 44% of the population of reproductive age in Uruguay suffers from obesity or overweight.
Briozzo explained that the pandemic situation and the measures established to mitigate it, produced the conditions that, previously warned by the team of researchers, made it possible to observe the difference in risk in pregnant users of public and private health, and the impact that in both groups it produced the economic crisis, the social crisis, with a large increase in the burden of care for women, and the psychological crisis.
“These crises were brutal in the most vulnerable sectors and we feel it because every day we see them in the maternity ward of the Pereira Rosell Hospital Center and we saw that very serious situations for women’s health were repeated. We believe that these evidences are inputs for the elaboration of policies to try to mitigate and we are obliged as university students based on the Organic Law of our house of studies to get involved in these issues and propose alternatives, ”she said.
Briozzo is also the founder of Initiatives for Health, an association of professionals committed to access to sexual and reproductive health rights for 20 years in Uruguay.
“Twenty years ago, in an unprecedented economic crisis, there was an emergency that was maternal death due to unsafe abortions, and at that time we developed a mitigation model called ‘Health Initiatives’ against unsafe abortions.” ” -also awarded by the National Academy of Medicine- in 2009.
“Ten years later, we are working on another issue that we believe is very relevant to public health, which is why we are applying for the award, and we believe it is essential to establish a similar model for mitigating reproductive risk in the most vulnerable population, increasing research regarding these issues, in the social and biomedical area, and we believe that any long-term policy has to be based on the reproductive process, because it will have a weight on epigenetic mechanisms in the next 40 or 50 years, with a significant burden of disease burden,” added Briozzo. Because chronic diseases “are transmissible due to poverty and the violation of rights,” she said.