According to the most recent available data, cases of malaria and deaths due to malaria have decreased substantially over the past decades. Between 2010 and 2018, the incidence of malaria fell from 71 to 57 cases per 1,000 population at risk. Despite this progress, about 400,000 people died from malaria in 2018 alone, and 93% of those deaths occurred in sub-Saharan Africa. The Global Technical Strategy for Malaria (2016-2030) calls for a 40% reduction in malaria case incidence by 2020, but only 31 malaria endemic countries are currently on track to achieve this goal.

Pregnant women and newborns living in malaria endemic areas are especially vulnerable. Malaria in pregnancy (MiP) continues to play a large role in global maternal deaths. In 2015, malaria was the third most common cause of death among women of reproductive age in Africa. During that year, MiP was estimated to have been responsible for more than 400,000 cases of maternal anemia and approximately 15% of maternal deaths globally. Unfortunately, the women who are most vulnerable to malaria are often the least protected against it. MiP also poses a significant threat to newborns because it can cause spontaneous abortion, stillbirth, premature delivery, low birth weight and neonatal mortality.

Coverage of malaria prevention, screening and treatment among pregnant women remains low in many areas of sub-Saharan Africa, despite investments in MiP and clear evidence of effective interventions. In order to combat MiP, intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy (IPTp) should start early in the second trimester of pregnancy (ideally at week 13) with three or more doses of the antimalarial sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine and continue monthly over the course of the pregnancy until delivery. Based on available data, the percentage of eligible women receiving three or more doses of IPTp in 36 African countries increased from 2% in 2010 to 31% in 2018. Still, much work is needed to ensure that pregnant women and newborns across the globe are protected against malaria.

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The Role of the MHTF

Meetings & Events

At the Global Maternal Health Conference 2013 (GMHC2013) in Arusha, Tanzania in January 2013, MiP was well represented with three panels, 17 presentations and an informal luncheon.

Presentations related to malaria in pregnancy at GMHC2013

In June 2012, the MHTF, in collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and PATH, hosted a technical meeting to discuss several challenges and opportunities to improve MiP outcomes.

“Malaria in Pregnancy: A Solvable Problem—Bringing the Maternal Health and Malaria Communities Together”

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Blog series: Malaria in Pregnancy