Protection of pregnant women against malaria still inadequate

Jan 26, 2011

A study published today in The Lancet Infectious Diseases finds that methods to protect pregnant women from malaria are still underutilised in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). A review of national control strategies by a team of international researchers, led by the Malaria in Pregnancy Consortium and funded by the Consortium and the Wellcome Trust, has concluded that despite major efforts, coverage is still inadequate in many areas and needs to be scaled up.

Malaria infection in pregnancy can lead to devastating consequences for both mother and child. The World Health Organization's (WHO) recommended policy for prevention and control is a package of intermittent preventive treatment (IPTp) and insecticide treated nets (ITNs). These interventions have the potential to substantially reduce the disease burden and adverse outcomes of malaria in pregnancy. The Roll Back Malaria initiative (RBM) has ambitions to ensure that 100% of receive IPTp and at least 80% of people at risk from malaria are using ITNs in areas of high transmission by 2010.

Specific strategies for in pregnant women were extracted from national malaria policies and the most recent national household cluster-sample surveys recording IPTp and ITN use were reconciled to sub-national administrative units to compute the numbers of protected pregnancies. Malaria maps generated by the Malaria Atlas Project (MAP, www.map.ox.ac.uk) meant these estimates could be stratified against different levels of malaria risk.

The study found that 45 of 47 SSA countries had an ITN policy for pregnant women and that estimated coverage was 17% among the nearly 28 million pregnancies at risk of malaria in the 32 countries with information. Among 39 countries with an IPTp policy, 25% of pregnant women had received some IPTp, despite 77% visiting an antenatal clinic (ANC), the main delivery channel for reaching pregnant women with ITNs and IPTp.

Professor Feiko ter Kuile, MiP Consortium leader and co author said: "Ten years after the Abuja declaration, it is encouraging that the majority of malaria endemic countries in SSA have now adopted ITNs and IPTp and the number of countries with nationally representative coverage data has increased to 40 out of 47. However, very few countries have reached either the Abuja targets or their own policy ambition, and countries are even further away from the more recent RBM targets set for 2010. In addition, coverage was lowest in areas with high malaria transmission, where the need is greatest.

"In general, low coverage with IPTp and ITNs contrasts with correspondingly high ANC attendance, indicating that there are missed opportunities for coverage and the attainment and maintenance of high coverage of ITNs remains challenging.

"In summary, whilst most countries have adopted national policies aimed at reducing and controlling malaria in pregnancy, it is clear that, with some notable exceptions, not enough progress has been made towards the new RBM goals or the policy ambitions of each country.

"With only five years in which to meet the Millennium Development Goals it is sobering that in countries with a national policy for IPT and/or ITN, an estimated 23 million pregnancies remain unprotected by an ITN and 19 million remain unprotected by IPTp. Greater effort to fully understand
the reasons why coverage is so low and to develop strategies to combat this is urgently needed to protect the tens of millions of pregnancies in sub-Saharan Africa threatened by malaria every year."

Explore further: US orders farms to report pig virus infections

Provided by Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

US orders farms to report pig virus infections

21 hours ago

The U.S. government is starting a new program to help monitor and possibly control the spread of a virus that has killed millions of pigs since showing up in the country last year.

Foreigner dies of MERS in Saudi

22 hours ago

A foreigner has died after she contracted MERS in the Saudi capital, the health ministry said on announced Friday, bringing the nationwide death toll to 73.

Vietnam battles fatal measles outbreak

Apr 18, 2014

Vietnam is scrambling to contain a deadly outbreak of measles that has killed more than 100 people, mostly young children, and infected thousands more this year, the government said Friday.

New clues on tissue scarring in scleroderma

Apr 18, 2014

A discovery by Northwestern Medicine scientists could lead to potential new treatments for breaking the cycle of tissue scarring in people with scleroderma.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Treating depression in Parkinson's patients

A group of scientists from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging has found interesting new information in a study on depression and neuropsychological function in Parkinson's ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...