Potential Contribution of Community-Based Health Workers to Improving Prevention of Malaria in Pregnancy

Justin Tiendrebeogo, Ousmane Badolo, Mathurin Dodo, Danielle Burke, and Bill Brieger of Jhpiego have designed and are implementing a study to determine the effect of delivering Intermittent Preventive Treatment for Malaria in Pregnancy through community health workers in Burkina Faso with the support of the US President’s Malaria Initiative and the USAID Maternal and Child Survival Project. They have shared the design and start-up activities for the study at the 66th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. A summary follows:

CHW Flipchart Page

The Ministry of Health of Burkina Faso with the support of its partners initiated a study on the feasibility of increasing provision of Intermittent Preventive Malaria Treatment in pregnant women (IPTp) with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) by involving existing community-based health workers (CBHWs). As Burkina Faso adopted the WHO recommendations for more doses of IPTp during pregnancy, it was proposed that the challenge of achieving coverage of third, fourth and additional doses could be met using CBHWs.

The approved protocol calls for CBHWs to refer pregnant women to antenatal care (ANC) to receive their first IPTp dose. Subsequent doses at one-month intervals would be provided by trained CBHWs, who would report back to supervising midwives at the ANC clinics. Several steps were taken to gain approval and set up the intervention.

CHW Using Flipchart

First, IPTp data from the health information system was gathered. IPTp coverage based on ANC registration in the 6 intervention clinics was 69% IPTp1, 68% IPTp2, 56% IPTP3, and 1% IPTp4. Similar information was obtained from the 6 control clinic catchment areas. Situation analysis found that while CBHW curriculum stresses the importance of ANC, it does not address IPTp at community level.

In response updated training materials have been developed. The study team also collected information on village size and availability of CBHWs, especially females. Among the villages in the catchment of the 6 intervention ANC clinics, 33 were found to lack female CBHWs.

Supervisory Meeting

As a result, the team needed to recruit additional female CBHWs, as revised national recruitment guidance stressed attainment of primary school certificate over gender, meaning mainly men had been hired previously. Two institutional review boards were involved and suggested the need to address the potential rare side effects of SP and concerns that community IPTp would not detract from ANC clinic attendance.

Since district and clinic level health staff will be involved in implementing the program using the national CBHW program, lessons learned from this effort to expand the work of CBHWs in preventing malaria in pregnancy should be applicable and adaptable to the whole country.

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