The Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership launches a Global Call to Action to increase national coverage with preventive treatment to protect pregnant women and their unborn children from the devastating outcomes caused by malaria during pregnancy.
Intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy (IPTp) – which involves administering three doses of an antimalarial called sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine as early as possible during the 2nd trimester of pregnancy and at every scheduled visit to an antenatal clinic thereafter, saves lives. Specifically, IPTp reduces anaemia and increases the likelihood of babies being born at a healthy weight, thereby resulting in greater child survival. IPTp is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), together with insecticide treated bednets for the prevention of malaria during pregnancy.
Despite being a simple and highly cost effective intervention, coverage of IPTp remains very low. In 2013, an estimated 15 million of the 35 million pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa did not receive a single dose of preventive treatment during their pregnancy. Every year in this region, malaria infection during pregnancy causes around 10,000 maternal deaths and between 75,000 and 200,000 infant deaths1. These deaths are preventable.
The Global Call to Action aims to heighten awareness of the need to increase the protection of pregnant women against malaria and calls on national malaria programmes, donors, researchers, pharmaceutical industry and civil society to reinforce national IPTp policy adoption, and implement the 2012 WHO guidelines to maximize the public health impact of the prevention of malaria in pregnancy.
The immediate priority is to develop country action plans based on the Call's recommendations that are adapted to local requirements with support from technical partners, and achieve a 100% increase in IPTp coverage from current levels by 2020, and national coverage of at least 90% by 2030.