WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2016

Barriers to preventing malaria in pregnancy consistent in Africa

The main barriers to the use of interventions that prevent malaria in pregnant women are relatively consistent throughout sub-Saharan Africa, according to a study recently published in PLOS Medicine.

Researchers from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in the U.K., the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the Seattle-based PATH found that the similarity between intervention roadblocks could result in a helpful checklist of the factors that influence the uptake of interventions.

The researchers determined that there were more barriers to the uptake of intermittent preventative treatment in pregnancy with the drug sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine than there were in the use of insecticide-treated bed nets.

"This analysis provides a comprehensive basis for identifying key bottlenecks in the delivery and uptake of IPTp and ITNs among pregnant women, and for understanding which scale-up interventions have been effective, in order to prioritize which interventions are most likely to have the greatest impact in the short or medium term," the study's authors said.

The team found the key barriers to the provision and uptake of life-saving interventions included unclear policy and guidance, healthcare facility issues like unavailability of water, general health system issues like drug shortages, confusion among health providers about the timing of IPTp doses and pregnant women who delay antenatal care.

"The review also highlights the need for multi-country studies that evaluate targeted or multifaceted interventions aimed to improve the delivery and uptake of IPTp and ITNs," the authors said.

Malaria in pregnancy is responsible for the deaths of approximately 200,000 newborn babies and 10,000 women annually.