Evaluation of malaria prevention strategies during pregnancy in Ndola, Zambia
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Background: Malaria in pregnancy is associated with many negative outcomes for the woman, foetus and neonate. Intermittent preventive treatment during pregnancy (IPTp) using three doses of sulfadoxine/pyrimethamine (SP), insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs) and indoor residual spray (IRS), constitute the main strategies used to prevent malaria. The aim of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of these strategies for the reduction of malaria prevalence in pregnant women. Methods: A questionnaire on socio-demographic information, history of malaria during current pregnancy and prevention strategies used was administered to 450 consecutive patients admitted into labour wards at three local clinics. From the antenatal cards, information was collected on the last menstrual period, date of each dose of SP taken, gravidity, and HIV status. A blood slide to detect Plasmodium was then collected from each woman after consent. Results: Of the participants in the study, 2.4% had a positive blood slide at term and 15.8% reported malaria during pregnancy. All the participants took at least one dose of SP with 87.6% completing the stipulated three doses. The mean gestational ages for each dose were 22.1 (SD 4.6), 29.1 (SD 4.4) and 34.4 (SD 3.9) weeks for the first, second and third dose respectively. With regard to ITNs, 79.5% had one, but only 74.1% used it regularly. IRS was completed in all three of the clinics’ catchment areas. Only 23.4% used commercial insecticide. Conclusion: The measured prevalence of malaria at term in Ndola was remarkably low, although the self-reported rate during pregnancy was still high. The national targets for accessing IPTp were exceeded, although the timing of each dose needs to be improved. Access to ITNs was high, but usage needs to increase.