Malaria: Focus on pregnant women and children, stresses UN health agency report

©UNICEF/Josh Estey More women in sub-Saharan Africa are using bed nets to protect themselves against malaria.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


While more pregnant women and children are being protected against malaria than before, more fast-tracking and greater funding are needed to reinvigorate the global response, according to a new United Nations report launched on Wednesday.

“We’re seeing encouraging signs, but the burden of suffering and death caused by malaria is unacceptable, because it is largely preventable”, said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), the agency behind the World malaria report 2019.

Progress stalled

The report notes a significant increase in the number of pregnant women and children in sub-Saharan Africa sleeping under insecticide-treated bed nets and using preventive medicines. However, WHO maintains that progress has stalled in the hardest-hit countries.

In 2018, some 11 million pregnant women were infected with malaria in sub-Saharan Africa, which resulted in low birthweights for nearly 900,000 children.

According to WHO, pregnancy reduces a woman’s immunity to malaria, rendering her more susceptible to infection and at greater risk of illness, severe anaemia and death.

Maternal malaria also interferes with growth in the womb, increasing the risk of premature delivery and low birth weight – a leading cause of child mortality.

And despite encouraging signs that preventive measures are helping protect pregnant women and children, from 2014 to 2018 there was no improvement in the global rate of malaria infections in the hardest-hit countries.

“Pregnant women and children are the most vulnerable to malaria, and we cannot make progress without focusing on these two groups”, the WHO chief spelled out.

Women at the fore

In outlining progress in protecting women and children in sub-Saharan Africa, the report revealed that some 61 per cent of them slept under an insecticide-treated net in 2018, as compared to 26 per cent in 2010.

Moreover, the delivery of antimalarial medicines known as “intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy” (IPTp) to antenatal care facilities, increased from an estimated 22 per cent in 2017 to 31 per cent in 2018.

Still, too many women do not receive the recommended number of IPTp doses, or none at all.

Some women are unable to access antenatal services. Others who reach a care facility do not benefit from IPTp as the course of drugs are either not available or the health worker does not prescribe it.

Keeping children safe

WHO recommends insecticide-treated nets and preventive antimalarial medicines to guard pregnant women and children against malaria, along with robust health services that include prompt diagnostic testing and treatment.

Recalling that in 2018, 72 per cent of eligible children benefited from preventive medicine, WHO recommends seasonal preventative drug courses, during the high-transmission rainy season, for children under-five living in Africa’s Sahel subregion.

Another recommended strategy – intermittent preventive treatment in infants (IPTi) – calls for delivering antimalarial medicines to very young children through a country’s immunization programme. The tool is currently being pioneered in Sierra Leone.

“IPTi offers a tremendous opportunity to keep small children alive and healthy,” said Pedro Alonso, Director of WHO’s Global Malaria Programme.

Although timely diagnostic testing and treatment are vital, many children with a fever are not brought in for care.

According to recent country surveys, 36 per cent of children with fever in sub-Saharan Africa do not receive any medical attention.

Funding barrier

Integrated community management for malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea can bridge gaps in clinical care in hard-to-reach communities.

And while 30 countries now implement the approach, bottlenecks in health financing bar most sub-Saharan African countries.

Last year, malaria afflicted 228 million people and killed an estimated 405 000, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa.
Inadequate funding remains a major barrier to future progress.

Total funding for malaria control and elimination reached an estimated $2.7 billion in 2018, falling far short of the $5 billion global target.

“The lack of improvement in the number of cases and deaths from malaria is deeply troubling,” said WHO Director-General Ghebreyesus.

Advertising

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

How the media can be a meaningful stakeholder in the quest to meet the SDGs

Migration: Better travel safe than sorry

Release of prize-winning Reuters journalists in Myanmar welcomed by UN

How distorted is the EU labour market by this crisis?

What if Trump wins the November election and Renzi loses the December referendum?

Why is the World Health Organisation so much needed?

Stop violence against women: Statement by the European Commission and the High Representative

After Brexit and Grexit, Brussels to deal with Poloust

EU Youth Conference concludes in Luxembourg with concrete plans on how to create real youth participation

De-escalate now, to steer Yemen off ‘precarious path’, UN Security Council hears

JADE Spring Meeting 2017 – day 3: JADE Academy trainings, networking session and gala dinner – Excellence Awards winners revealed

It’s time to ‘eliminate the scourge of conflict-related sexual violence’, urges UN chief

South Korea: A cherished partner for the EU

Costa Rica is one of the world’s happiest countries. Here’s what it does differently

UN Security Council condemns Taliban offensive as a blow against ‘sustainable peace’

Cum-ex tax fraud scandal: MEPs call for inquiry, justice, and stronger tax authorities

Barcelona’s ‘superblocks’ could save lives and cut pollution, says report

The European Sting @ European Business Summit 2014 – the preview

Mergers: Commission opens in-depth investigation into joint ventures proposed by Boeing and Embraer

AI will drive the societies of the future. Will the governed consent?

Trade in fake Italian goods costs economy billions of euros

Diversity training doesn’t change people’s behaviour. We need to find out what does

UN Security Council welcomes results of Mali’s presidential elections

The Stray

Syria: A bloody tracer of Trump – Putin rapprochement

Drought in Europe: Commission presents additional measures to support farmers

World cannot be transformed without ‘ingenuity of the countries of the South’: UN Chief

Women’s voices must be heard in the battle to save the ocean

Climate emergency: City mayors are ‘world’s first responders’, says UN chief

How data can empower patients to personalize and improve their cancer treatment

New round of bargaining for the 2014 EU budget late in autumn

No better year for the EU’s weak chain links

Shaping Europe’s digital future: op-ed by Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission

German opposition win in Lower Saxony felt all over Europe

Cities are easy prey for cybercriminals. Here’s how they can fight back

Treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons marks first anniversary, but still lacks sufficient numbers to become law

In 2020 Asia will have the world’s largest GDP. Here’s what that means

Iraqis paying an ‘unthinkable price’ to be heard, UN envoy tells politicians in Baghdad

The COP22 is under full deployment while Donald Trump threatens openly to withdraw the US from the Paris agreement

E-Governance: A powerful tool to combat, mitigate and sustainably manage disaster risks

7 ways for businesses to capture the youth dividend

Coronavirus: Commission offers financing to innovative vaccines company CureVac

Privatization of the health sector and the right to receive treatment

These LGBTQI Davos leaders shared their advice on coming out

More funds needed to counter ‘persistent and multi-faceted humanitarian problems’ in Ethiopia

Youth Forum welcomes European Commission proposal to speed up financing for youth employment

International Court of Justice orders Pakistan to review death penalty for Indian accused of spying

Exchanges of medical students and the true understanding of global health issues

‘We are nowhere closer’ to Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, than a year ago, Security Council hears

Future Forces Forum: Prague will be hosting the most important project in the field of Defence and Security

‘Starvation’ now a reality for displaced Syrians stranded in camp near Jordanian border

Look to cities, not nation-states, to solve our biggest challenges

COP25: Developing nation’s strike hard

Top UN official urges Russia and Ukraine to step away from further confrontation at sea

Why exchange programs are essential for the medical students of the 21st century

Ebola: EU announces new funds to strengthen preparedness in Burundi

The hidden downsides of autonomous vehicles – and how to avoid them

3 ways to fix the way we fund humanitarian relief

Sustainable fishing staying afloat in developed world, sinking in poorer regions

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s