Dr. Meera Chhagan
Dr. Meera Chhagan is a pediatrician and epidemiologist based in South Africa. She works for the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health and is a researcher and honorary lecturer at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Her main area of research is in child health, specifically nutrition, infection, and psychosocial health. Being an already established child health epidemiologist when she received an INF/EMF Fellowship, she views the fellowship as being instrumental in broadening her work in the global child health arena.
Her current work supported by the INF is: “The effect of micronutrient supplementation on morbidity and growth in South African children”. While regular vitamin A supplementation is an integral part of child survival strategies in developing countries, the place for adding other micronutrients such as zinc is not well established. This is an important question in countries where diarrhea is a major threat to child health. She seeks to use the South African context to shed light on this topic in her research.
Dr. Chhagan is also deeply involved in HIV research. Her current and upcoming projects address the metabolic and nutritional effects of antiretroviral therapy in children; the validation of bioimpedance for determination of body composition in HIV-infected South African children; and health and psychosocial needs of children with developmental disorders in a time of HIV.
As a clinician, she manages a tertiary referral service for children with infectious disease and/or HIV and is also becoming involved in strengthening programs for HIV prevention and treatment. She was recently part of a team that conducted a qualitative study examining the effects of HIV/AIDS and antiretroviral therapy on the educational experience of children in their foundation phase and early school years with the aim of developing recommendations.
Dr. Chhagan works collaboratively within interdisciplinary teams of researchers based at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, SA; Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, NY; Tufts University, MA; University of West Indies, Jamaica; and Oxford University, UK.