Delivery of Intermittent Preventive Treatment of Malaria in Pregnancy at the Community Level in Malawi

Delivery of Intermittent Preventive Treatment of Malaria in Pregnancy at the Community Level in Malawi

By: Ethel Chilima, John Munthali, and Katherine Wright 

Publication: Malaria Journal 21 June 2022 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12936-022-04216-4

Abstract

Malaria in pregnancy doubles the risk of low birthweight; up to 11% of all neonatal deaths in sub-Saharan Africa are associated with malaria in pregnancy. To prevent these and other adverse health consequences, the World Health Organization recommends administering intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy (IPTp) with sulfadoxine–pyrimethamine for all pregnant women at each antenatal care (ANC) visit, starting as early as possible in the second trimester. The target is for countries to administer a minimum of three doses (IPTp3+) to at least 85% of pregnant women.

A cluster randomized, controlled trial was conducted to assess the effect of delivery of IPTp by community health workers on the coverage of IPTp3 + and ANC visits in Malawi. Community delivery of IPTp was implemented within two districts in Malawi over a 21-month period. In control sites, IPTp was delivered at health facilities. Representative samples of women who delivered in the prior 12 months were surveyed at baseline and endline. A difference in differences analysis was conducted to assess the change in coverage of IPTp and ANC over time, accounting for clustering at the health facility level.

To reduce the burden of malaria in pregnancy, new strategies are needed to improve uptake of effective interventions such as IPTp. While community health workers’ delivery of IPTp did not increase uptake in this study, they may be effective in other settings or circumstances. Continuing to push new delivery models, rigorously assess them, and continued research can help identify the health systems characteristics that are conducive to community delivery of IPTp and the operational requirements for effective implementation. 

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