Pregnant with malaria

Pregnant with malaria

Ghanian Nurse Eileen Buxton

Photo: Eileen Buxton


Eileen Buxton works as a nurse in Ghana, where malaria causes more than 3% of all maternal deaths each year. Through her job she meets many malaria patients and is well aware of the potentially fatal nature of this disease. Thus, when she got sick during her third trimester of pregnancy, she imagined the worst.

Suffering from severe nausea as well as vomiting, uneasiness and a high temperature. Eileen realized something was wrong. “I was scared. I was actually very scared…I knew how being sick during pregnancy could affect the mother and the child too.” said Eileen.

Eileen’s worst fears were confirmed when she was diagnosed with malaria. She says, “I was put on some intravenous fluids and was also given artemether–lumefantrine.” She was admitted to the hospital for three days and then discharged. But before she could recover fully, the fever came back within a couple of days. Further tests revealed that Eileen was now suffering from severe malaria and she was admitted to the hospital again, this time for about three weeks. “I was given intravenous quinine for about five days… It took a long time for me to recover some strength,” she recalls.

Fortunately, three weeks after her recovery from malaria, Eileen delivered a healthy child. However, this incident impacted her deeply. “Having malaria during pregnancy is like you’ve signed your death sentence… Apart from you being anxious about your health, you are also anxious for the health of the baby you are carrying,” she explains.

Eileen says, “Some people survive, like myself, but others don’t.” She adds, “my experience has actually made me educate people more about malaria in pregnancy.”

Malaria in pregnancy is a serious public health issue. MMV and partners are intensifying efforts to address this issue by raising the standard of care for pregnant women and newborn babies through inclusive drug development and deployment strategies.