OVER 85 per cent of pregnant women in Lindi Region now use Intermittent Preventive Treatment in pregnancy (IPTp), which prevents them from contracting malaria.
The observation was made here yesterday by Lindi Regional Medical Officer (RMO) Dr John Sijaona to the ‘Daily News’ adding that his office was ensuring that such drugs do not run out of stock.
“Mothers attending Clinics early should start taking the dose and get awareness on the matter to avoid malaria that causes maternal death to them,” he added.
The figure has increased during the last two years, where previously the uptake amongst the expectant women was less than 60 per cent.
The RMO noted that Malaria infection during pregnancy is a major public health problem and pose substantial risks to the mothers and their foetus and the neonates.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends IPTp with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (IPTp-SP) in all areas with moderate to high malaria transmission in Africa.
Intermittent preventive treatment of malaria in pregnancy is a full therapeutic course of antimalarial medicine prescribed to pregnant women at routine antenatal care visits, regardless of whether the recipient is infected with malaria or not.
IPTp reduces maternal malaria episodes, maternal and fetal anaemia, placental parasitaemia, low birth weight and neonatal mortality.
Equally, he added that: “We insist that a pregnant woman get the medicine four times during the period of her pregnancy.
“Due to the uptrend in the use of the IPTp, currently we don’t have clinical malaria cases among the pregnant women, but rather we diagnose malaria for those who hadn’t started taking the medicine.”
Dr Sijaona noted that the success in increasing the use of the malaria prevention drugs was made possible after the introduction of ‘USAID Boresha Afya’ project in the region as well as effective supply of the drugs by the government.
Reached for a comment, the area Regional Coordinator for Maternal Health Services, Ms Zainab Mathradas, said the area has a total of 247 Centres, which provide the malaria prevention drugs to the pregnant mothers.
“For the whole last year and this year we have never experienced any shortage of the IPTp drugs...We are well managing the re-distribution of the drugs to all the Centres,” she said.
On his part, the area Regional Health Secretary, Mr Tawani Selemani, said that the project has enabled them to generate a digital system that monitors stocks of drugs at the centres.
“With this system, it is easier for us to identify Centres, which remain with few stocks of drugs and therefore we immediately work on re-distribution,” Mr Selemani explained.
The USAID Boresha Afya – Southern Zone which started in 2016 is a five year programme funded by the United States Government through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The programme works to address health service gaps in 43 Councils across the regions of Iringa, Njombe, Morogoro, Lindi, Mtwara and Ruvuma.
In collaboration, the Deloitte Consulting Limited joins it to implement the programme with its technical partners namely Family Health International (FHI360), EngenderHealth and Management and Development for Health (MDH).