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Malaria during pregnancy threatens lives of millions

20 June 2016

Malaria infection during pregnancy can seriously affect the lives of the pregnant mother, foetus and newborn baby.

It is estimated to be responsible for 10,000 maternal deaths and 100,000 newborn deaths globally each year. The risks include neonatal death, stillbirth, spontaneous abortion, premature birth, severe malaria, low birth weight and life-threatening anaemia.

 MiP Infographic 1 

Infographic: Roll Back Malaria (RBM) MiP Working Group (click on image to enlarge).

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a number of life-saving approaches including the routine administration of intermittent preventive treatment (IPTp) strategies using the antimalarial sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP), together with other critical measures to ensure effective diagnosis, treatment and prevention of malaria in mother and child.

Infographic: Roll Back Malaria (RBM) MiP Working Group (click on image to enlarge)

The WHO and Roll Back Malaria Global Call to Action partners advocate the widespread use of IPTp-SP as a proven cost-effective, low risk prevention and protection strategy that should be administered to pregnant women as early as the 2nd trimester in areas of moderate to high malaria transmission.

To ensure that SP remains an effective antimalarial, for as long as possible, further research is needed to understand the scale and emergence of antimalarial drug resistance. We also need to analyse the impact of drug resistance on the efficacy of intermittent preventive treatment (IPTp) strategies to control malaria in pregnancy.

To respond to these knowledge gaps the Malaria in Pregnancy (MiP) Consortium has developed a new Scientific Group in partnership with WWARN researchers to address a number of questions relating to IPTp-SP and drug safety during pregnancy.

The Malaria in Pregnancy Scientific Group will review the safety of a range of antimalarials used in all trimesters of pregnancy in Africa and Asia. They will also focus on the modifying effects of SP resistance and malaria transmission intensity on the effectiveness of IPTp with SP for low birth weight outcomes and map the regions where different drug-based control strategies could be used according to the levels of SP resistance and transmission intensity. In addition, the group will consider the safety and efficacy of IPTp using dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DP) and intermittent screening and treatment with artemether-lumefantrine (AL) and dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DP).

The collation and pooled analysis of data on the efficacy, tolerability, safety and pharmacokinetic properties of antimalarial medicines used both for prevention of malaria and treatment during pregnancy will support the creation of evidence-based pregnancy treatment and prevention policies and support the global drive to eradicate malaria. By collaborating across research institutes and scientific disciplines we can help to protect and save the lives of many more women and children.  

Read the full summary of goals and activities of the Malaria in Pregnancy Scientific Group.

View the full screen ‘Investing in Malaria in Pregnancy in Sub-Saharan Africa’ infographic and Malaria in Pregnancy Working Group Action Plan.

For further information, please contact the MiP Scientific Group Coordinator Jenny [dot] Hill [at] lstmed [dot] ac [dot] uk