To commemorate the 2017 World Malaria Day, the sub-committees responsible for Knowledge Management and Communication (KMC) in the State Accountability Mechanism for Maternal and Newborn Health in Gombe (Gombe State Accountability Mechanism for Maternal and Newborn Health – GoSAM) and Bauchi (Bauchi State Accountability Mechanism for Maternal and Newborn Health – BASAM) states, are to draw attention to the problem of malaria in pregnancy in the two states and the entire Nigerian nation.
The activities planned around the 2017 World Malaria Day include a media roundtable and radio and television programmes aimed at public enlightenment and public policy implementation to address the problem of malaria in pregnancy which, according to the World Health Organisation, has consequences for not just the pregnant woman, but the unborn baby as well (see also this Lancet article).
The Bauchi group, BaSAM KMC, took the decision at its 2017 second quarterly review meeting held 7 April, where activities in the first quarter were reviewed and plans for the second quarter were discussed. The Gombe group followed with their own plan, and both will hold the media roundtable simultaneously on 26 April.
Although malaria is still a global health problem with 212 million new cases in 2015, out of which there were 429,000 deaths, including one child dying from malaria every 2 minutes, the mood around the 2017 World Malaria Day is celebratory. This is because of prevention and treatment successes recorded between 2010 and 2015.
During the period, there was a 21 per cent decrease in the global malaria incidence, and a 29 per cent decline in mortality, WHO said in a statement.
“In sub-Saharan Africa, 663 million cases of malaria were prevented between 2010 and 2015 through the scale-up of core malaria control tools,” it added, explaining that insecticide-treated nets have had the greatest impact, “accounting for an estimated 69 per cent of all cases prevented through control tools.”
In areas with high malaria transmission, young children and pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to malaria infection and death. In 2015, 70 per cent (more than two-thirds) of all malaria deaths occurred among under-5 children.
To protect pregnant women from malaria, WHO recommends Intermittent Preventive Treatment in Pregnancy (IPTp), which prevents maternal and infant mortality, anaemia, and other adverse effects of malaria during pregnancy. Administration of IPTp on pregnant women is recommended at routine antenatal care visits in areas of stable malaria transmission in sub-Saharan Africa.
However, IPTp coverage remains low. In 2015, it was just 31 per cent. In other words, an estimated 69 per cent of pregnant women still do not access the WHO-recommended three or more doses of IPTp.
On 2017 World Malaria Day, WHO will call on all malaria-affected countries and their development partners to close the gap in coverage of IPTp.