Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | While up to 95 percent of pregnant women in Uganda attend at least one antenatal care visit, only 41 percent take anti-malaria treatment as prevention of infection which can be fatal to both an expectant mother and their baby.
Dr Fatuma Namusoke, an obstetrician and gynecologist who was the principal investigator in a new study by researchers at Makerere University told URN that the majority of women revealed missing the three recommended doses of fansidar even though the guidelines stipulated that health workers give the drug and drinking water to the mother from the health facility in order to guarantee compliance.
She says that the study which aimed to understand compliance to the prophylaxis treatment in addition to the development of immunity and drug resistance involved both health workers and women who had just gone through pregnancy.
The respondents also reported to have not had discussions with health workers about malaria even as majority of them acknowledged to have received education on HIV testing and prevention of mother to child transmission during antenatal lessons.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO) figures, five percent of malaria cases recorded globally come from Uganda and the disease remains a major presentation in the outpatient department of hospitals generally. When it comes to malaria in pregnancy, Namusoke says WHO has recommended highly malaria-endemic countries to come up with own strategies to keep the disease at bay.
However, even with this caution, more than 1,000 maternal deaths happen due to complications directly related to malaria and if they don’t die, Namusoke says they sometimes suffer stillbirths and other times the babies come out underweight requiring expensive health interventions for them to be able to survive.
Apart from complications to the mother, Namusoke says they are currently seeing a new trend in infection among babies. While previously children born to mothers in highly endemic places were not infected with malaria in the first year of life, now she says they are seeing more children reporting with the disease.
The researchers on the study which was funded by the government through the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund now recommend revising both how the malaria message is delivered during antenatal visits in addition to tasking health workers to always ensure that the drug is administered at the clinic.
However, while this study was also supposed to check immunity and drug resistance levels, this wasn’t done as they lack reagents to do analysis that will determine exposure to infants.
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