A cost-effective intervention for preventing maternal and newborn mortality
Plasmodium falciparum malaria during pregnancy can result in negative outcomes in maternal and child health. In malaria stable transmission areas in Africa, approximately 25 million pregnancies are exposed every year to the infection. An estimated 10,000 of these women and 200,000 of their infants die as a result of malaria infection during pregnancy, and severe malarial anaemia contributes to more than half of these deaths.
Malaria infection during pregnancy is one of the contributors to neonatal mortality, mostly through low birth weight (LBW) and prematurity and by causing maternal anaemia or maternal malaria infection (placental parasitaemia). In areas of moderate-to-high malaria transmission, the current World Health Organization (WHO) recommended strategies include both preventive and curative measures: the intermittent preventive treatment during pregnancy with sulfadoxine pyrimethamine (IPTp-SP) to prevent asymptomatic infections, insecticide treated bed nets (ITNs) and effective case management for malaria illness and anaemia among pregnant women. In several countries in Africa, some P. falciparum parasites carry mutations linked to SP resistance which are associated with therapeutic failure to SP. But IPTp with SP remains effective in areas where a high proportion of P. falciparum parasites carry these mutations and hence should still be administered to women in such areas.