Post-doctoral scholar Dr. Takudzwa Sayi receives Gates Foundation grant

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The USF College of Public Health announced on June 15 that it is a Grand Challenges Explorations winner, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  Dr. Takudzwa Sayi, a post-doctoral scholar in the Maternal and Child Health Center of Excellence in Education, Practice, and Science in the Department of Community and Family Health, will pursue an innovative global health and development research project titled, “Perspectives on Side-Effects of Hormonal Contraceptives.”

Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) supports innovative thinkers worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mold in how we solve persistent global health and development challenges. Sayi’s project is one of 28 Grand Challenges Explorations Round 18 grants announced today by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Dr. Takudzwa Sayi, post-doctoral scholar in the Department of Community of Family Health, has been awarded a Gates Foundation Grand Challenges Explorations grant to study side effects of hormonal contraceptives among women in Zimbabwe. (Photo by Anna Mayor)

To receive funding, Sayi and other Grand Challenges Explorations winners demonstrated in a two-page online application a bold idea in one of four critical global heath and development topic areas. The foundation will be accepting applications for the next GCE round in September 2017.

The $100,000 grant will allow Sayi to collect data from users of hormonal contraceptives, such as the pill and IUDs, who experience or express concerns about side-effects associated with these methods in Zimbabwe.

She will document contraceptive use decision-making while navigating perceived and expressed concerns. Additionally, the project will include interviews with family planning providers to get their perspectives on side-effects of hormonal methods and how they perceive women deal with them.

“Getting this chance to work on research that will help women and their partners achieve their sexual and/or reproductive goals is exciting,” Sayi said. “Zimbabwe has one of the highest contraceptive use rates in sub-Saharan Africa, and a majority of users use hormonal contraceptives, yet concerns with side or health effects continue to be motivations for discontinuing use or avoiding future use of these methods.”

According to Sayi, the project will use journey mapping as an innovative method for collecting comprehensive data use decision making to understand how women leverage sources of information about methods and side-effects, deal with negative and positive experiences and feelings with methods and providers, and navigate other contextual factors governing decisions to use contraceptives.

“We expect that the finding of this research will help increase correct and/or consistent use of contraceptives, draw inexperienced users, and highlight areas in which new contraceptive technologies might be focused,” Sayi said. “The perspectives of family planning providers will provide an additional perspective from the supply side, which we hope will help achieve these goals of meeting women and their partners’ family planning needs.”

This is Sayi’s first grant-funded research opportunity.

“[This grant] gives me the opportunity to develop into the kind of researcher that I would like to be in the future. I am grateful to the Bill and Melinda Gates Grant Challenges Explorations for the opportunity,” she said. “This type of research is important to me because it can help make positive impacts on families and communities.”


Story by Anna Mayor, USF College of Public Health 

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