According to the most recent Global Burden of Disease data, deaths due to malaria have decreased substantially over the past few decades. Global malaria mortality rates have dropped by 44% between 1990 – when malaria was the tenth most common cause death – and 2015 – when malaria was the 20th most common cause of death. Despite this progress, roughly half a million people died from malaria in 2015 alone, and 92% 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 half of 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 increased from 6% in 2010 to 31% in 2015. Still, much work is needed to ensure that pregnant women and newborns across the globe are protected against malaria.
- Malaria in Pregnancy Library
Malaria in Pregnancy Consortium
- Malaria Resource Package
- Successes and Challenges for Malaria in Pregnancy Programming: A Three-Country Analysis
USAID Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program
- Implementing Malaria in Pregnancy Programs in the Context of World Health Organization Recommendations on Antenatal Care for a Positive Pregnancy Experience
Maternal and Child Survival Program
- World Malaria Report 2016
World Health Organization | December 2016
- Sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine exhibits dose-response protection against adverse birth outcomes related to malaria and sexually transmitted and reproductive tract infections
Clinical Infectious Diseases | March 2017
- Malaria prevention in pregnancy, birthweight, and neonatal mortality: A meta-analysis of 32 national cross-sectional datasets in Africa
The Lancet Infectious Diseases | September 2012
- Prevalence of malaria and sexually transmitted and reproductive tract infections in pregnancy in sub-Saharan Africa: A systematic review
JAMA | May 2012
- Roll Back Malaria Progress & Impact Series: The Contribution of Malaria Control to Maternal and Newborn Health
Roll Back Malaria | July 2014
- WHO Policy Brief for the Implementation of Intermittent Preventive Treatment of Malaria in Pregnancy Using Sulfadoxine-Pyrimethamine (IPTp-SP)
World Health Organization | January 2014
- Coverage of malaria protection in pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa: A synthesis and analysis of national survey data
The Lancet Infectious Diseases | January 2011
Documents & Reports
- World Health Organization
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Roll Back Malaria
- Malaria in pregnancy: A solvable problem—bringing the maternal health and malaria communities together
- Malaria in pregnancy: Threats, opportunities and new technologies
- Malaria in pregnancy: The role of the private sector
- Innovative approaches to identify and apply context-specific interventions
- An analysis of achievements and limitations to meeting women’s comprehensive needs during pregnancy
- Coverage of MiP interventions in malaria-endemic African countries
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.
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.
Blog series: Malaria in Pregnancy