Study: Pregnant Women Not Gaining Access to Malaria Prevention

    13 August, 2013


    From VOA Learning English, this is the Health Report.

    Malaria kills about 200,000 newborn babies and 10,000 new mothers every year. Most of these death are in Africa. Malaria can also cause mothers to lose their babies before they are born, or cause a baby to be born early. These are low cost ways to prevent malaria infection. But a new study find that many pregnant women do not receive this intervention.

    For example, for the past 20 years, the World Health Organization (WHO) has advised pregnant women in areas with high rates of malaria to sleep on the bed nets treated with insecticide.

    The WHO also advised them to get what is known as intermittent preventive treatment, or IPT. This treatment involves take in a low cost anti-malaria drug at certain times in the pregnancy in an effort to prevent the disease. The WHO recommends that pregnant women receive the medicine usually around 4 times during visitss to a clinic.

    Many pregnant women and new mothers go to medical clinics in sub-saharan Africa. Yet researchers say only about 21 percent receive intermittent preventive treatment during their pregnancy, and less than 40 percent are given protective bed nets.

    Jenny Hill from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine is program manager for a research partnership called the Malaria and Pregnancy Consortium. 

    Miss Hill says a review of 98 studies found a number of barriers to malaria prevention, these included unclear policy and guidance from government ministers and health care officials. Other problems include drug shortages, a lack of clean water, and confusion about how to administer IPT.

    "They were unclear on when to give it whether it could be given to women on an empty stomach, whether it should be given under observation in clinics, and so on and so forth."

    Miss Hill says free intermittent preventive treatment is the policy in 37 countries across the region. But the researchers found that antenatal clinic or ANCs may charge fees, that can keep some preganat women from returning.

    Miss Hill says countries can reduce the number of deaths and early births due to malaria by following the WHO policy on intermittent preventive treatment. She says governments should also provide more money in their budgets for anti-malaria drug, so there are no shortages. Also they should publicize the importance of malaria prevention among women at highest risk for the disease.

    The journal PLoS Medicine published the analysis of maternal and infant malaria prevention measures.

    And that's the Health Report from VOA Learning English. You can comment on this story at, and you can find us on Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Itunes at VOA Learning English. I'm Jim Tedder.