Prevention during pregnancy

Malaria infection during pregnancy is a major cause of maternal and neonatal death in Zambia and throughout tropical and subtropical regions of the world. In areas of Africa with stable malaria transmission, malaria infection during pregnancy is estimated to cause as many as 10,000 maternal deaths each year, 8 to 14% of all low birth weight babies, and 3-8% of all infant deaths.

For prevention of malaria during pregnancy, Zambia is pursuing two strategies: use of ITNs by pregnant women and intermittent preventive treatment (IPT) during pregnancy. IPT was adopted in 2003 and has already reached high levels of coverage in its delivery through antenatal clinic attendance. The current drug recommended for use for IPT is sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP).

Because pregnant women are particularly susceptible to malaria, it is important for them to start receiving antenatal care early in their pregnancy so that they can readily access malaria prevention and treatment services. Accessing intermittent presumptive treatment (IPT) -- three courses of SP taken one month apart at prenatal visits in the last six months of pregnancy – has been found effective in protecting mother and baby from malaria and malaria-related disease complications.