OPINION: Protecting pregnant women from malaria – a missed ‘quick win’

Thursday, April 23, 2015

In the eight years since we commemorated the first World Malaria Day, millions of women and children have continued to die from a disease that is both preventable and treatable. Malaria takes the lives of more than 1,200 children under the age of 5 every day – the staggering equivalent of 50 children every hour.

I started to focus on malaria during pregnancy while working in Rwanda, and saw an alarming trend: many pregnant women were harbouring the malaria parasite, but most of them were asymptomatic. They neither suspected having malaria nor were they trying to find out if they were infected.

The truth is, women are particularly vulnerable to infection with the malaria parasite during their pregnancies because their immunity wanes. During this time, infection can be life-threating for both mother and baby. Every year there are an estimated 10,000 maternal deaths as well as 75,000-200,000 deaths of children under the age of 1 throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

Source: Unicef Connect (link opens in a new window)

Health Care
infectious diseases