By Doreen Ampofo
The First Lady, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo, has appealed to international advocates and stakeholders in the prevention of malaria in pregnancy to scale up efforts to ensure the use of Intermittent Preventive Treatment (IPT) to protect pregnant women and unborn babies from malaria during pregnancy.
Mrs Akufo-Addo made the call when she addressed attendees of one of several events organised by Devet at the Neuehouse, Madison Square, New York, on the sidelines of the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). The leaders discussed the need to protect pregnant Women against Malaria by speeding up Uptake of Intermittent Preventive Treatment , IPTp, in affected African countries.
The event which was sponsored and convened by RBM Partnership To End Malaria, invited African First Ladies to provide leadership to the continuation of the campaign and join as champions in
the effort to scale up access and uptake of antenatal care services and IPTp on the African continent.
“Our pregnant women must receive Intermittent Preventive Treatment once a month or at least 3 times, during pregnancy. We must also ensure that they sleep under treated bed net in addition to effective case management of malaria when necessary.
“This can help save the lives of pregnant women and their unborn children. But we must make sure SP is readily available at health facilities. We must ensure an efficient and expanded supply chain system for SP distribution and access,” Mrs Akufo-Addo said.
Mrs Akufo-Addo affirmed the Infanta Malaria Prevention Foundation’s support for Ghana’s Malaria Prevention Programme. “We will continue to educate, create awareness, conduct medical outreaches, provide insecticide-treated nets, and construct more primary health facilities known in Ghana as CHPS compounds”.
She called on stakeholders to join in the work of upscaling the use of “Intermittent Preventive Treatment” to protect pregnant women and their unborn children from the devastating effects of malaria in pregnancy.
Present at the event was the First Lady of Liberia, Clar Weah. In her solidarity remarks, she noted that she has very much been inspired in her work in malaria prevention in Liberia, by the First Lady Rebecca Akufo-Addo.
Globally, 1 in 3 pregnant women suffers from malaria in moderate-to-high transmission countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Malaria in pregnancy, or MiP, is a leading cause of maternal anemia and malaria in the fetus.
It is also responsible for approximately 10,000 maternal deaths and 100,000 newborn deaths yearly. Intermittent preventive treatment, or IPTp, started as early as possible in the second trimester and taken once each month at least three times during pregnancy, can save the lives of both expectant mothers and their unborn children from malaria, together with sleeping under a bed net and effective treatment of malaria.
In 2022, as part of efforts to increase access to IPTp for pregnant women, the malaria in the pregnancy working group of the RBM Partnership to End Malaria initiated the “Speed Up Scale Up IPTP campaign”.
Over 1,000 people signed a letter under the umbrella of the campaign from some 300 organisations in 43 countries in Africa, calling on decision-makers to support access to all eligible pregnant women with the malaria preventive treatment they need.
A book with the signatures was handed over to the African Leaders Malaria Alliance at a media briefing and malaria awards ceremony at the 2023 African Union Summit.