Category Archives: Malaria in Pregnancy

Transforming Intermittent Preventive Treatment For Optimal Pregnancy (TIPTOP) Project in Ebonyi State Nigeria

Bright Orji who is the Project Manager for the Jhpiego and UNITAID Transforming Intermittent Preventive Treatment For Optimal Pregnancy (TIPTOP) Project in Nigeria shares remarks that introduce the program in Ebonyi State of Nigeria.

The project will help protect pregnant women from malaria. Malaria is very dangerous to pregnant women and unborn babies. It causes abortion, low birth weight in babies as well as responsible for about 11% (6,050) of maternal deaths of Nigerian women

Jhpiego’s original community IPTp in Akwa Ibom State involved community volunteers in preventing malaria in pregnancy

Building on Jhpiego’s effort to ensure Intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy (IPTp) reaches all women in the community. Between 2007 and 2010, Jhpiego collaborated with the National Malaria Elimination Program (NMEP), Reproductive Health division of the Federal Ministry of Health and provided technical assistance to the Ministry of Health in Akwa Ibom State to introduce a community directed approach with a focus on malaria in pregnancy with support from the ExxonMobil Foundation. That project reached over 35,000 pregnant women representing an increase in IPTp uptake by 35.3% going from 21.7% at baseline to 57.0% at the endline.

With support coming from Unitaid, Jhpiego and her partners will be implementing Transforming Intermittent Preventive Treatment for optimal pregnancy – shortened to TIPTOP project reach all pregnant women in Ohaukwu, Ebonyi State (South-East), Suleja in Niger State (North Central and Akure south in Ondo State (South West).

Bright Orji and Colleagues review clinic records on malaria in pregnancy

These States were selected on the basis of malaria prevalence rate; national commitment to generate evidence across the six geographical zones; given that similar project has been implemented in Akwa Ibom State representing South-South, and Sokoto state representing North West. Poor status of IPTp interventions in the selected Local government areas; and to further complement our on-going efforts with Maternal and Child Survival Project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID/MCSP); Presidential Malaria Initiatives (PMI), Global Health Funds for Tuberclosis, HIV/AIDs and Malaria.

In this effort, we will work with the National Malaria Elimination Program (NMEP) that is charged with the responsibility of coordinating all malaria prevention and control activities in Nigeria; Reproductive Health Division of the Family health department, Federal Ministry of Health, State Ministries of Health, Local Governments authorities, communities development partners including World Health Organization (WHO); UNICEF, World Bank and other stakeholders (PMI/USAID, AFENTH etc).

To do this, TIPTOP project Nigeria will use a two-pronged approach that will increase the number of pregnant women in the three states who receive key malaria in pregnancy interventions by:

  • Strengthening ANC services in health facilities, ensuring that a strong foundation for MIP services is in place; and
  • Using community directed intervention approach where Community health workers,

Supervised by these strengthened ANC facilities, to initiate MIP interventions at the community level and refer women to the nearest ANC facility

Antenatal Clinics are the base for organizing training and community involvement in delivering Intermittent malaria Preventive Treatment in Pregnancy

Both parts of this approach will also strengthen local capacity in training, supervision, project implementation and evaluation by working with local civil society organizations that have strong ties to the community. As a component of this project, TIPTOP will seek a model for integrating MIP and other prevention services on the platform of ANC. TIPTOP project has planned for operations research that will provide some lessons and evidence and these include:

  • Household surveys to gain understanding how pregnant women think, where they receive services if they are not coming to the health centers, and how we can prove services they receive
  • Anthropological study – that would investigate community acceptability of community IPTp
  • Sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) resistance monitoring study and
  • Economic study – cost-benefit analysis

We are aware of the challenges ahead, Prof. ‘Dipo Otolorin the former Country Director for Jhpiego and now the Snr. Technical and Programmatic Advisor will always say, “a stick of broom cannot sweep the street, but when you have a bunch of sticks sweeping becomes delightful”. This is an African aphorism for team building.

So, from beginning of the grant application and subsequent development of the approved country operational plan (COP); we have engaged the key stakeholders that work on malaria in Nigeria. This is because we need the collaboration, coordination and cooperation of everyone. We will work together to mobilize all the communities in these three states, conduct community census that will guide us to estimate adequate number of SP doses; enter every kindred, family, household and home of pregnant women. We will identify all the pregnant women, refer them to attend ANC, as well as administer the life-saving medicines to the eligible ones both at facility and community levels. NO PREGNANT WOMAN SHOULD DIE OF MALARIA, BECAUSE IT IS PREVENTABLE, TREATABLE AND WE HAVE EVIDENCE-BASED INTERVENTIONS TO PROTECT THEM.

By the end of the project we would have achieved the goal of increasing the number of women who receive MIP services through strengthened ANC and community-level interventions. TIPTOP project expects additional outcomes from this initiative and these include:

  • Generate evidence for WHO policy change
  • set stage for scale up of community intermittent preventive treatment during pregnancy (IPTp)
  • Increased demand for quality assured sulfadoxine–pyrimethamine (SP) for IPTp and

With this project no pregnant woman should die from malaria. So let us all join hands to stop malaria – and make Nigeria a Malaria free nation!!!

Population Health: Malaria, Monkeys and Mosquitoes

On World Population Day (July 11) one often thinks of family planning. A wider view was proposed by resolution 45/216 of December 1990, of the United Nations General Assembly which encouraged observance of “World Population Day to enhance awareness of population issues, including their relations to the environment and development.”

A relationship still exists between family planning and malaria via preventing pregnancies in malaria endemic areas where the disease leads to anemia, death, low birth weight and stillbirth. Other population issues such as migration/mobility, border movement, and conflict/displacement influence exposure of populations to malaria, NTDs and their risks. Environmental concerns such as land/forest degradation, occupational exposure, population expansion (even into areas where populations of monkeys, bats or other sources of zoonotic disease transmission live), and climate warming in areas without prior malaria transmission expose more populations to mosquitoes and malaria.

Ultimately the goal of eliminating malaria needs a population based focus. The recent WHO malaria elimination strategic guidance encourages examination of factors in defined population units that influence transmission or control.

Today public health advocates are using the term population health more. The University of Wisconsin Department of Population Health Sciences in its blog explained that “Population health is defined as the health outcomes of a group of individuals, including the distribution of such outcomes within the group.” World Population Day is a good time to consider how the transmission or prevention of malaria, or even neglected tropical diseases, is distributed in our countries, and which groups and communities within that population are most vulnerable.

World Population Day has room to consider many issues related to the health of populations whether it be reproductive health, communicable diseases or chronic diseases as well as the services to address these concerns.

Liberia’s Fight against Malaria Continues

Liberia was making steady progress against malaria in the years after the civil war. Despite the devastation of Ebola, the health authorities have continued to push against malaria. The DHS Program has released key findings from the 2016 Malaria Information Survey. We have compared those against the 2011 MIS, and while there is progress, much work needs to be done in this highly endemic area – not just in fighting malaria, but in rebuilding health systems damaged by war and Ebola.

Targets for Intermittent Preventive Treatment in pregnancy of malaria have risen from at least 2 doses in 2011 to three or more when the 2016 data were collected. While the IPTp2+ doses have increased by a little less than 5%, the challenge of IPTp3 and greater has become quite evident. It is interesting that coverage of IPTp is slightly better in rural areas, but there is still a long way to go to protect pregnant Liberian women.

The situation with access to and use of insecticide treated nets has also improved over the 5-year period, but still remains well below the targets of universal coverage. Even though nearly two-thirds of households have at least one ITN, only a quarter have enough nets to reach the goal of one net for every two people. Net use by children below the age of 5 years is better than that of pregnant women, though in both cases less that half of these vulnerable populations are covered. Nets are particularly important for pregnant women who cannot take IPTp in the first trimester.

Care for febrile children also has improved, but questions remain about appropriate care due to the nature of the questioning processes in the MIS.  Seeking advice increased by 20% as did getting blood tests (RDT or microscopy) once care is sought.  Double the number of febrile children received artemisinin-based combination therapy in 2016 compared to 2011, but since the rate of testing is low, we do not know if they were being appropriately treated – given ACT only is tests were positive.

Liberia does receive support from donors such as the Global Fund and the US President’s Malaria Initiative. These and other partners need to strategize with the Liberian Ministry of Health and other local partners (NGOs, Businesses, etc.) in order to mobilize the support to put Liberia more squarely on the road to malaria elimination.

Burundi: when will citizens see real protection from malaria?

Preliminary findings from Burundi’s 2015-16 DHS have been made available. The country has a long way to go to meet targets for basic control of malaria.

LLIN availability by household is an overall disappointing 32%. Ironically there is greater coverage of households in in urban areas (50%) than rural (30%). There is also great variation among the provinces with 52% coverage in Bujumbura metropolitan but only 19% in Canzuko. The overall average is less than one treated net per household.

A major concern is equity. The chart above shows a steep gradation from 19% coverage among the lowest fifth of the wealth quintile, up to 48% in the highest. Even in households that have at least one net, only 17% of of people slept under a net the night before the survey.

In terms of use by those traditionally defined as vulnerable, the DHS shows only 40% of children below 5 years of age overall slept under a treated net the night prior to the survey. Even in households that own at least one net, 78% of these children slept under one.

A similar pattern is seen for treated net use by pregnant women. Overall 44% slept under a treated net, and 84% did so in households that owned at least one treated net. The internal household dynamics of net use where one is available does appear to favor these two groups.

Overall coverage of Intermittent Preventive Treatment for pregnant women is very low. Less than 30% of pregnant women received even the first dose of SP. This decreased to 21% for two doses and 13% for three. In contrast to net coverage, more rural women (31%) received the first dose of IPTp than urban ones (19%).

Nearly 40% of children below five years of age were found to have had a fever in the two weeks preceding the survey. Among those care was sought for only two-thirds. Eleven percent of those with fever received an artemisinin-based combination therapy drug. The report did not mention whether these children had received any testing prior to treatment, so appropriateness of treatment cannot be judged. Prevalence testing of the children in the sample found 38% with parasitemia. Therefore one might assume that more children should have received ACTs.

Burundi still faces major political and social challenges. Even so Burundi is the recipient of malaria support from the Global Fund. For example 18 million LLINs were distributed in 2015 and 19 million in 2016.

Much work is needed to bring Burundi even close to universal coverage of malaria interventions. In today’s climate of questionable donor commitment, it is hoped that regional partners may play a role since malaria knows no boundaries.

Supporting Midwives to Prevent Malaria on International Day of the Midwife

Midwives play at least two crucial roles when it comes to saving the lives of pregnant women in malaria endemic areas. First as the health staff responsible for providing intermittent preventive treatment for malaria in pregnancy (IPTp), midwives can ensure that women do not suffer the consequences and complications of malaria in the first place. Secondly, knowing that we may not be able to reach all pregnant women with the full package of malaria interventions in a timely manner, midwives are there to save lives from the complications to the mother and fetus arising from malaria-associated anemia and low birth weight. Today we focus on prevention.

Today on the International Day of the Midwife is a good time to examine how to strengthen midwives’ roles in preventing malaria and protecting women from its consequences. This year’s theme, “Midwives, Mothers and Families: Partners for Life!” is in line with our overall concern about ending malaria through partnership at all levels.

In providing antenatal/prenatal care (ANC) in stable malaria endemic areas, midwives are tasked with ensuring that pregnant women get an adequate number of doses of IPTp at the right time in their pregnancy. Previously only two doses were required, but now a pregnant woman can receive IPTp monthly from the beginning of the second trimester. The ability of the midwife to attract women to ANC and ensure that once there gets the required doses can be daunting.

A study in Uganda found that many pregnant women did not get the full regimen of IPTp and learned that several factors were responsible. Midwives’ education level and professional experience had a positive effect. Management issues such as the availability of safe drinking water and the drugs for intermittent preventive treatment were crucial. “Midwives who provided frequent health education to pregnant women, cooperated with village health team members and received in-service training were likely to provide effective anti-malaria services to pregnant women.” In short there are training and management interventions that can enable midwives to protect pregnant women better.

Examination of malaria prevention in ANC clinics in Malawi showed that providers generally did have correct information about IPTp, but at times did know understand the exact timing of doses. They knew that those on HIV infection prevention prophylaxis should not take IPTp and that IPTp should be given as directly observed treatment, but in many clinics there were lack of official written guidelines to help them recall procedures post-training.

Again, we can see that a variety of learning and management interventions can help midwives prevent malaria. Additional work in Uganda has shown the valuable role midwives can play as community health educators in encouraging ANC attendance and thus IPTp uptake. They need full support from the health system to do this important outreach.

Preventing Malaria in Pregnancy – fill the coverage gaps

In a press release for World Malaria Day 2017, the World Health Organization called for the global community to “Prevent malaria – save lives” as part of the WHO push for prevention on World Malaria Day, 25th April. WHO recommended that, “Together with diagnosis and treatment, WHO recommends a package of proven prevention approaches, including insecticide treated nets, spraying indoor walls with insecticides, and preventive medicines for the most vulnerable groups: pregnant women, under-fives and infants.” This package has averted 663 million cases have been averted since 2001.

That said, WHO also identified gaps.

  • Approximately 69% of pregnant women in 20 African countries did not have access to the recommended 3 or more doses of preventive treatment.
  • An estimated 43% of people at risk (including pregnant Women) of malaria in the region were not protected by either a net or indoor insecticide spraying in 2015

This gap became evident on a recent visit to Ouargaye Health District in Burkina Faso where National Malaria Control Program and Jhpiego, with support from US President’s Malaria Initiative and USAID’s Mother and Child Survival Project, are setting up a pilot program to test community delivery of IPTp through the existing network of community health workers.

Normally IPTp is delivered as part of antenatal/prenatal care and the new project will use the ANC clinic as a base for training and supervising the CHWs. Health Statistics from the District from 2016 show the challenge that the community approach hopes to address.

Among the approximately 20408 pregnant women in the District, 75% attended ANC once, 67% twice, 58% more than thrice and 56% four or more times. At present IPTp coverage is lower than ANC attendance: 61% received one dose, 56% got 2, 41% received 3, 14% got 4 and only 3% received 5 or more doses.

The pilot project intends to use CHWs mobilize more women to register for ANC and get their first IPTp dose. Then the CHWs, under supervision of the health center staff will deliver additional doses at the appropriate monthly interval.

More and more health interventions, including integrated community case management, are moving into the community. Universal health coverage requires that the health system meet people where they are – let the health system adapt to the clients, not the clients adjust to the convenience of health workers. With this approach the gap in ANC attendance and IPTp coverage will hopefully close, saving more women’s lives through prevention.

Malaria in Pregnancy Progress in Nigeria – the 2015 Malaria Indicator Survey

With an eye toward the future Nigeria’s National Malaria Control Program also refers to itself as the National Malaria Elimination Program (NMEP). Given that Nigeria has the highest burden of malaria in Africa, along with around one-quarter of sub-Saharan Africa’s population, the elimination goal will take a lot of work.

Recently the 2015 Malaria Information Survey (MIS) for Nigeria was released and gives a perspective on how far we have some and how far we need to go. We will focus on malaria in pregnancy (MIP) interventions today.

Intermittent Preventive Treatment for pregnant women (IPTp) using sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) remains the key MIP intervention due to the high and stable malaria transmission that still persists. There is always a challenge in delivering health interventions that require multiple contacts, and IPTp is not exception. The difficulty in achieving two doses when that was policy was clear. Now that WHO recommends monthly dosing from the second trimester forward (giving the possibility of 3, 4 or more doses), the service delivery challenge is heightened.

We can see in the attached graph from the MIS report that while there is progress, it remains well below the 2010 Roll back malaria Target of 80%. Part of the problem resides in the fact that the 2013 DHS showed only 61% of pregnant women attended even one antenatal care visit while 51% attended four or more.

The second lesson of the graph is missed opportunities. There is a gap between IPTp1 coverage of 37% and at least one ANC visit of 61%. Granted, 18% of women made their first visit in the first trimester when SP is not given, but not all of those stopped ANC then. The next evidence of missed opportunities is the gap between IPTp1 and IPTp2, almost a quarter of women who started IPTp did not get a second dose. We cannot say that the women’s own attendance gaps account for all the missed opportunities; some are likely due to health systems weaknesses such as stock-outs and health staff attention.

Key demographic factors are linked to receiving two or more IPTp doses. Only 30% or rural women received two or more compared to 50% of urban. There was a steady progression from 21% of the poorest women to 55% of those in the highest wealth quintile. A second chart also shows variation by section of the country. These access gaps are why we have advocated for supplementary distribution of IPTp through trained community health workers.

Use of insecticide treated bed nets by pregnant women shows a similar increase over time. The dip in 2013 probably related to fact that mass campaigns had occurred between 2009 and 2011 and thus by the time of the survey some nets had become damaged and abandoned. A major challenge in achieving net coverage is NOT relying on periodic distribution campaigns only, but ensuring regular and reliable supplies during routine services such as antenatal care. This again is a health systems problem that must be solved.

Net access is not only a health systems issue, bit may be factor of internal household dynamics. Even when the household possesses nets, only 63% of pregnant women therein slept under one the night before the survey. Community education needs strengthening – more than just telling people what to do but involving them is solving the problems of net use.

So as mentioned earlier, progress is being made, but more effort is needed. We are especially concerned because of the precariousness of global financial support for disease control. Nigeria needs to strategize how it can meet its own needs in protecting pregnant women and their unborn children from malaria, disability and death.

Malaria Mass Drug Administration: Ensuring Safe Care of Reproductive Age Women

The potential impact of mass malaria drug administration (MDA) on pregnant women was the focus of Symposium 146 at the recent 65th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in Atlanta. The symposium was co-chaired by Clara Menéndez and Larry Slutsker who opened the session with an overview.

mda-recommendations-whoAs malaria control interventions are scaled up and sustained and malaria transmission levels decline and prevalence falls, an increasing number of countries are starting to see elimination on the horizon. For pregnant women, the antimalarial antibodies that have provided some level of protection in moderate to high malaria transmission settings are reduced as malaria transmission declines.

Current evidence shows that as transmission levels decline, the consequences from P. falciparum malaria are even greater for pregnant women. As countries enter pre-elimination stage and move towards eventual elimination, it will be important to address the needs of pregnant women given their increased vulnerability.

To help achieve elimination, countries are exploring strategies involving widespread distribution of anti-malarials, primarily artemisinin-combination therapies (ACTs), to asymptomatic individuals, including both mass drug administration (MDA) and mass screen and treat (MSaT).

Animal studies have suggested potential embryo toxicity and teratogenic effects of artemisinin drugs in the first trimester of pregnancy.

Given the limited human data, ACTs are currently contraindicated in first trimester, except in documented cases of clinical malaria illness where quinine is unavailable. This poses a challenge in mass campaigns, as it requires the identification of women in early pregnancy who are not yet obviously pregnant. Screening including offering pregnancy tests and/or interview to ask a woman her pregnancy status directly may not work as many may not wish to reveal their pregnancy status.

Final Algorithm for Screening Prior to MDA in Mozambique

Final Algorithm for Screening Prior to MDA in Mozambique

While only about 5% of the population is pregnant at any given time, and only 1/3 of those are in the first trimester, approximately 20% of the population is comprised of women of reproductive age who may be pregnant. Thus, the number of women who need to be screened for pregnancy is substantial across countries. In addition to privacy issues, costs of screening processes are another barrier.

During the symposium Francisco Saúte from Mozambique and Samuel J. Smith from Sierra Leone shared experiences. Clara Menéndez addressed ethical issues involved in the potential risk of MDA with the ACT Dihydroartemisinin-Piperaquine (DHA-P). These two countries have addressed pregnant women in MDAs in two widely different contexts.

Mozambique is learning whether MDA is a valuable component to malaria elimination in the low transmission areas in the southern part of the country. In Sierra Leone MDA was seen as a lifesaving tool to prevent malaria deaths during the Ebola epidemic when taking blood samples for diagnosis was a major risk.

Over several rounds of MDA, Mozambique refined its pregnancy screening procedures over several rounds of MDA as seen in the attached slide.  Costs, confidentiality, convenience and efficiency entered into the equation that saw a greater focus on communicating with women rather that testing. Lessons learned from MDA in Mozambique included –

  • Screening for early pregnancy in the context of MDA is challenging, particularly among teenage girls where disclosing pregnancy can be problematic
  • Need to train field workers (preferably women) about the need to ensure confidentiality of pregnancy testing/results
  • Confidentiality is also crucial to ensure adherence to t
    MDA Rationale in Sierra Leone during Ebola Outbreak

    MDA Rationale in Sierra Leone during Ebola Outbreak

    he pregnancy testing

  • Women not accepting pregnancy test must be warned on risks/ benefits of ACTs in 1st trimester
  • Health authorities must understand that IPTp and MDA are not mutually exclusive

The Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone and its neighbors, Liberia and Guinea, devastated the health workforce, and the availability of any sort of testing supplies was low.  The country experienced a major drop in utilization of clinic based MCH services including those for malaria during the period.

MDA Goals in Sierra Leons

MDA Goals in Sierra Leone

Because of initial similarities in presenting symptoms between Ebola and malaria, people were often fearful of going to the health center in case they were detained for Ebola care or were exposed to other patients who had Ebola. Community MDA seemed to be one way to protect the population from malaria in this emergency situation. The attached slide offers a rational for the MDA. A second slide explains Sierra Leone’s goal for MDA with Artesunate-Amodiaquine in the context of Ebola. Though not completely, the Sierra Leone MDAs were able to exclude pregnancy women in their first trimester.

Pregnant women excluded from MDA in Sierra Leone

Pregnant women excluded from MDA in Sierra Leone

In conclusion MDA is a tool conceived primarily for countries and areas of countries as part of the pre-elimination strategy. It presents a variety of logistical challenges, but a major concern should also be the ethical issues of giving a potentially toxic drug to women in their first trimester of pregnancy. Alternative strategies to protect these women, including insecticide treated nets, must be explored.

Gaining an early start to IPTp through promotion of MIP at the community level in Kenya

posterA poster entitled “Community health: Improving start of IPTp early in second trimester through promotion of MIP at the community level in Kenya” was presented by Augustine Ngindu, Gathari Ndirangu, E Nyapada, David Omoit, and Mildred Mudany from Jhpiego’s Kenya Team at the 65th annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in Atlanta. The abstract follows …

WHO policy recommends that pregnant women living in moderate to high malaria transmission areas start receiving intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy (IPTp) with sulfadoxine pyrimethamine (SP) early in second trimester to prevent malaria in pregnancy (MIP).

Training Community Health Volunteers in Bungoma

Training Community Health Volunteers in Bungoma

In Bungoma County, Kenya, 52% of pregnant women start IPTp in their third trimester. Between June and September 2015, 197 Community Health Assistants (CHAs) were trained, who in-turn trained 2,344 Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) in Bungoma County.

Following the training, CHVs  registered new pregnant women at their homes and encouraged them to seek antenatal care (ANC)  and start taking IPTp early in the second trimester. The CHVs also helped to identify previously registered women who were not attending ANC and refer them to ANC for MIP services.

The CHVs, with CHA supervision, reached 44,133 pregnant women with MIP messages on starting IPTp early in the second trimester and use of a net. Data from 70 health facility registers was collected biannually and showed a 12% increase (24%-36%) in the proportion of pregnant women starting ANC attendance ? 20 weeks of pregnancy between October 2014 and March 2016.

Community Health Volunteers Encourage ANC Attendance

Community Health Volunteers Encourage ANC Attendance

Although there was a decline in the proportion of women receiving IPTp-SP between October 2014 and January 2015 and between October 2015 and February 2016 due to SP stock-outs, this did not significantly affect ANC attendance. The 12% increase in early ANC attendance is likely associated with CHV efforts in sensitizing women to start IPTp early in the second trimester and indicates a positive change in health seeking behaviour that can be sustained over time provided the commodities are available.

The success with CHVs promoting MIP at the community level has led to it being replicated in three additional counties and it will be extended in phases in other malaria endemic counties.

Country Updates on Global Call to Action to Increase Coverage of Intermittent Preventive Treatment in Pregnancy

Symposium 87 at the 65th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene focused on the Global Call to Action to Increase Coverage of Intermittent Preventive Treatment in Pregnancy: Progress and Lessons Learned. The original Global Call was initiated at a previous ASTMH meeting. Elaine Roman of Jhpiego chaired the session. Panelists included Julie Gutman of the US CDC,  Frank Chacky of the NMCP in Tanzania, Yacouba Savadogo of the NMCP in Burkina Faso and Fannie Kachale of the Reproductive Health Directorate in the Malawi MOH.

symp-tanzania-1The symposium speakers reviewed country progress in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) in increasing intermittent preventative treatment in pregnancy (IPTp) with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP). They described how Ministries of Health and donors and partners are working to increase IPTp-SP coverage to address malaria in pregnancy (MiP).

Following the release of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 2012 updated policy on IPTp-SP, a number of global stakeholders came together through the Roll Back Malaria-Malaria in Pregnancy Working Group, to elaborate the Global Call to Action: To Increase National Coverage with IPTp of MiP for Immediate Impact. The Call to Action calls upon countries and partners to immediately scale up IPTp-SP to improve health outcomes for mothers and their newborns. Scaling up IPTp-SP across most countries in sub-Saharan Africa remains a critical weapon to prevent the devastating consequences of MiP.

symp-ipt-update-malawi

IPTp3+ has been started in Malawi following WHO recommendations

However, the low proportion of eligible pregnant women receiving at least one dose of IPTp-SP (52%) and IPTp3-SP (17%) in 2014 is unacceptable. Despite growing parasite resistance to SP in some areas, IPTp-SP remains Tuesday a highly cost-effective, life-saving strategy to prevent the adverse effects of MiP in the vast majority of SSA.

Completion of the recommended three or more doses of IPTp-SP decreases the incidence of low birthweight (LBW) by 27%, severe maternal anemia by 40% and neonatal mortality by 38%. This symposium will feature presentations from WHO and the President’s Malaria Initiative on how they are prioritizing support to scale up MiP interventions including IPTp-SP across SSA.

Panelists from Burkina Faso, Malawi and Tanzania discussed how they were able to dramatically scale up IPTp-SP through a health systems approach that addresses MiP from community to district to national level.

symp-ipt-burkinaIn Burkina Faso, IPTp2-SP increased from 54.8% in 2013 to 82.3% nationally in 2015 and IPTp3-SP increased from 13.5% in 2014 to 41.2% nationally in 2015. Moving ahead Burkina Faso will Improve SP supply chain management, Pilot an IPTp distribution at the community level in three districts, Provide job aids throughout ANC clinics, and Provide support to district team for data review and analysis.

In Malawi, in targeted project sites across 15 districts, IPTp1 uptake increased from 44% in 2012 to 87% in 2015, while IPT2 increased from 16% to 61% over the same time period. Lessons learned from scale up include –

  • Consistent availability of SP for IPTp is critical to increasing coverage
  • A clear policy put in place to guide IPTp implementation is crucialsymp-building-blocks-malawi
  • A strong partnership between the Reproductive Health Directorate and National Malaria Control Programme is necessary
  • Intensification of information, education, and communication is crucial to increase uptake of ANC services
  • Strong collaboration, planning, and coordination between partners and other stakeholders improve ANC attendance
  • Antenatal clinics offers enormous opportunities for delivering the malaria prevention package, such as IPTp and insecticide-treated nets, to pregnant women

symp-ipt-tanzaniaIn Tanzania, IPTp2-SP increased from 34% in 2014 to 57% in 2015 and IPTp4-SP was reported at 22% in 225 facilities across 16 districts, in 2015. Program learning in Tanzania identified that consistent availability of commodities at facility level can complement Government’s and partners’ efforts to ensure provision of quality MiP services. Despite increased number of trained health care workers and regular supportive supervision and mentoring, increasing uptake of IPTp will continue to be a challenge unless malaria commodities such as mRDT and SP are available at health facilities. Redistribution of commodities among facilities could be crucial balancing the stock.

symp-tanzania-by-regionMoving forward Tanzania plans to use alternative funding to procure malaria commodities at health facility (e.g., Community Health Fund, National Health Insurance Fund, basket fund). Other efforts will include conducting onsite mentorship and coaching, data collection and interpretation, selecting sentinel sites for collecting IPTp3, working with Ministry of Health HMIS to revise HMIS tools when opportunity arises, and training Community Health Workers (CHWs) on maternal, neonatal and child health interventions including early booking of ANC services.

These three country examples demonstrate that progress is challenging but possible. The call to action for increased IPTp access and use is stronger today.