… Don describes prevalence of malaria in pregnancy as major problem
The Deputy Medical Director, General Hospital, Ijede, Dr. Olumuyiwa Balogun-Oluwa, has described the prevalence of malaria in pregnancy as a major challenge if adequate protective measures are not put in place to ensure survival and improved birth outcomes.
He disclosed this while speaking at an event organised by the hospital to mark Y2021 World Malaria Day with the theme “Reaching the Zero Malaria Target”, adding that malaria poses a major challenge in pregnancy worldwide because the number of mortality far exceeds any other disease.
Dr. Balogun-Oluwa pointed out that malaria is a life-threatening disease that could affect both mother and unborn baby, stressing that it is caused by a parasite called plasmodium which affects human blood cells.
His words: “Any of these types of malaria parasite could affect a pregnant woman depending on the region she finds herself, namely Plasmodium Falciparum (FP), Plasmodium Vivax (PV), Plasmodium Malariae (PM), Plasmodium Ovale (PO). We are mostly concerned about Plasmodium Malariae (PM) which causes chronic infection and Plasmodium Falciparum (PF)”.
While noting that in pregnancy, either of the plasmodia that affects the pregnant woman is still a major problem, the DMD affirmed that general symptoms like fever, headache, body pain and in severe infections, anaemia (shortage of blood), are what pregnant women should watch out for when infected with the disease.
He maintained that malaria infection can lead to miscarriage in the first trimester, growth retardation in babies in the second trimester and third trimester, pre-term delivery, neonatal malaria in newborn, adding that it can also reduce the mother’s chances of having a normal healthy delivery.
Research, according to Balogun-Oluwa, revealed that a pregnant woman has an increased risk of up to four times of being infected with malaria parasite and twice the chances of dying from malaria compared to a non-pregnant adult, due to the fact that a pregnant woman’s immune system is partially suppressed during pregnancy.
He asserted that one of the methods of preventing malaria in pregnancy is the use of Intermittent Preventive Treatment in Pregnancy (IPTp), adding that prescribing IPTp to pregnant women reduces the number of malaria attacks in pregnancy, reduces malaria-related mortality in pregnancy, reduces rate of low birth weight, reduces her chances of having low blood (anaemia) and increases the mother’s chances of having a normal healthy delivery.
While imploring pregnant women not to miss their Antenatal Clinics and sleeping in mosquito treated nets, the DMD informed that the use of Intermittent Preventive Treatment (IPTp) at intervals until delivery will also go a long way to reducing the scourge of malaria parasitaemia (malaria parasite in the blood) in society.
Recall that every 25th of April is recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as World Malaria Day to spread awareness among people regarding the need to eliminate, prevent and control the disease.