By Chioma Umeha.
LAGOS – Experts have decried the impact of Malaria during pregnancy noting that parasite denies the fetus nutrients and often result in low birth weight.
It is estimated that each year over 30 million women become pregnant in Malaria areas of Africa, with most living in areas of stable malaria transmission.
Although the vast majority of women with malaria infections during pregnancy remain asymptomatic, infection increases the risk of maternal anemia and delivering a low-birth-weight (LBW) baby.
LBW (<2,500 g) is an important risk factor for infant mortality, and this review focuses on the impact of malaria during pregnancy on LBW and subsequent infant mortality in sub-Saharan Africa.
Reacting to this, Dr. Godwin Ntadom, Head of Case Management Branch, National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP), weekend, while explaining the dangerous effects of Malaria in pregnancy, stresses that though the condition may not show that woman is sick, it deprives nutrient from the unborn baby.
Ntadom says: “At that stage, the woman may not be sick because the parasite is at the placenta, where it is feeding on the woman’s nutrients.”
The Head of Case Management Branch, NMEP, spoke on behalf of the National Coordinator, NMEP, Dr. Audu Bala Mohammed, during a consultative meeting/training on ways to improve the coverage of malaria by the media, organized by NMEP in collaboration with Health Communication Capacity Collaborative (HC3) in Lagos.
He adds: “It is a major programme in Malaria focus in Nigeria.
He further explains that most malaria infections, and the most severe morbidity and mortality, are caused by Plasmodium falciparum. Most P. falciparum infections occur in sub-Saharan Africa, and the P. falciparum parasite has been shown to be more common in pregnant than non-pregnant women and to have a substantial adverse effect on pregnancy outcome (causing both prematurity (gestation of <37 weeks) and intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR).
Erythrocytes infected with P. falciparum congregate in the maternal placental vascular space, where the parasites replicate. Malaria-infected placentas are frequently observed to carry antibodies, cytokines, and macrophages, which are indicative of an active immune response
Mrs. Itohowo Uko, Head, Advocacy, Communication and Social Mobilisation, who was also at the meeting, says that Malaria control interventions in Nigeria have evolved over the years with a lot of laudable strides made in the implementation of activities in the country.
But, she regrets, not many Nigerians are sufficiently aware of the laudable initiatives and what they can do to prevent malaria and adds that the purpose of the meeting with journalists is to reverse this situation.
She further says, Nigerians are taking anti-malaria when they do not need and stresses; ‘’we need more diagnosis than medicines.”