Setting the Stage to Introduce a Groundbreaking Community Approach to Prevent Malaria in Pregnancy in Sub-Saharan Africa

Maya Tholandi, Lolade Oseni, Anne McKenna, Herbert Onuoha, Solofo Razakamiadana, Elsa Nhantumbo, Alain Mikato, Elaine Roman of Jhpiego and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health shared important Baseline Readiness Assessment Findings from Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique, Madagascar, and Nigeria from the UNITAID-supported TIPTOP on Intermittent Preventive Treatment of malaria in pregnancy at the 2018 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene as seen below.

Intermittent preventive treatment of malaria in pregnancy (IPTp) is unacceptably low in most of sub-Saharan Africa. A Jhpiego-led consortium is implementing the Transforming Intermittent Preventive Treatment for Optimal Pregnancy (TIPTOP) project, which supports community distribution of quality-assured sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP).

TIPTOP aims to increase IPTp3 coverage from 19% to 50% of eligible pregnant women in project areas in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Madagascar, Mozambique, and Nigeria. The project, operating from 2017 to 2022, provides quality-assured SP, promotes community awareness, and supports supervision and coordination efforts between health facilities and community health workers (CHWs).

In 2017, a baseline assessment examined facility readiness for malaria in pregnancy management, antenatal care (ANC) provider knowledge, CHW characteristics and health facility linkages, and health management information system (HMIS) quality. TIPTOP assessed 140 facilities and interviewed 175 ANC providers and 67 CHW supervisors.

At project startup, the teams examined SP stock, ANC providers and CHW availability. SP Stock assessment showed a disparate stock maintenance processes and stock-out next steps indicate lack of a coherent and consistent approach to stock monitoring. In half of all cases, caregivers offer a prescription when stock is not available in the facility, with smaller numbers requesting.

Among ANC providers, 80% on average correctly reported that at least three doses of IPTp are recommended. On average, 64% correctly responded that SP should be initiated in the second trimester. Out of the 170 providers interviewed across countries, only five knew all the key signs of suspected malaria.

A low numbers of CHWs in some districts may limit their reach and capacity. Inadequate CHW education and ANC familiarity may diminish training effectiveness. In particular, low numbers of female CHWs may decrease community acceptance and pregnant women’s acceptability of receiving IPTp from CHWs.

Data Quality and Availability from the routine services would affect monitoring of interventions. Over-reporting of ANC contacts and IPTp service provision is a data quality challenge. The HMISs in Nigeria and Mozambique record IPTp3 provision, but only at the local level. Supervising facilities do not always review data before HMIS entry for accuracy.

Concerning Monitoring and Evaluation System Components, Mozambique’s HMIS is the strongest of the four countries in terms of linking to the national system, current tools and reporting forms available in the facilities, and providers reporting an understanding of indicators and data reporting processes. Nigerian facilities had limited knowledge of indicators and their definitions, despite this information being available in Federal Ministry of Health-provided registers. Madagascar struggled with indicator definitions and data management processes. DRC faced the most challenges: Tools and reporting forms were not available in health facilities, and there were limited monitoring and evaluation structures and processes.

In Conclusion, Results from the baseline assessment are Informing efforts to improve data quality and CHW facility data flow in TIPTOP implementation areas. There is need to strengthen ANC provider knowledge through TIPTOP-supported trainings. One also needs to address CHW variation by country and support health facilities to monitor their SP stock. These findings are being shared with ministries of health and key stakeholders to inform malaria implementation and data quality efforts.

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