Highlights From the Malaria in Pregnancy Working Group’s Annual Meeting

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By: Samantha Lattof, Project Manager, Maternal Health Task Force, Women and Health Initiative

Despite encouraging progress, coverage of malaria control efforts among pregnant women remains low. Malaria in pregnancy (MiP) continues to be a substantial contributor to maternal and infant mortality and morbidity in malaria-endemic regions. The interventions that comprise the World Health Organization’s (WHO) three-pronged approach to reducing the burden of MiP are implemented at rates far below global targets.  These interventions include:

  • Uptake of intermittent preventive treatment of malaria in pregnancy (IPTp) using Sulfadoxine-Pyrimethamine (SP);
  • Use of insecticide treated nets (ITNs); and
  • Appropriate, effective case management of malaria.

The Malaria in Pregnancy Working Group, one of several working groups within Roll Back Malaria, consists of partners dedicated to optimizing the delivery of the above key interventions “through the dissemination of successful technical guidance and programmatic approaches, fostering partnership between national reproductive health and malaria control programs and engaging key partners at both global and country level to help accelerate implementation and increase nation-wide coverage.” This week, the MiP Working Group held its annual meeting in Geneva on 13-14 May 2013.  The meeting agenda included presentations and discussions on the dissemination and adoption of the WHO’s new IPTp policy, country MiP progress, new technical evidence and key programming updates, and the MiP working group work plan. The MHTF has shared an abbreviated summary of participants’ presentations on Storify. Important takeaway messages from the presentations and discussions include the following:

  • Integrating malaria in pregnancy and extending partnerships to allied fields (e.g. reproductive health, newborn health, and HIV/AIDS) is key.
  • While the new WHO IPTp guidelines represent a step forward, the challenge will be to integrate these guidelines into country programs.
  • MiP is a model for integration through the harmonization of policies and commitment to national level coordination.
  • MiP is also a platform for optimizing the delivery of interventions and strengthening antenatal care.
  • IPTp-SP is highly cost-effective, a characteristic that will be important in the post-2015 agenda.
  • Case management is the neglected third prong.

Meeting presentations, publications, and minutes will be available shortly on the MiP Working Group website and the MHTF’s MiP topic page.  If you have feedback on our MiP topics page or are interested in submitting a guest post or cross-post for our ongoing MiP blog series, please contact Samantha Lattof at slattof@hsph.harvard.edu or Kate Mitchell at kmitchel@hsph.harvard.edu