International Day of the Girl Child: Get up, speak out and save adolescent girls from malaria

14 Oct 2020

Her Excellency Rebecca Akuffo Addo, First Lady of the Republic of Ghana entreats all African leaders to fully commit to protecting young girls, so they do not die from malaria.

11th October is the International Day of the Girl Child. Launched in 2012 by the United Nations GeneralAssembly, this day has been set aside to highlight the challenges girls face and empower them to fulfill their dreams and enjoy their human rights.

Globally, malaria is among the top killers of adolescent girls and contributed to 7.4% of deaths among this population.3, 4, 5 Malaria is a serious health risk during pregnancy, especially during the first pregnancy, which for many in malaria-endemic countries occurs during adolescence. 6 This is because during pregnancy the body undergoes physiological changes, which increases susceptibility to malaria.Coupled with other challenges young girls face such as malnutrition7, malaria causes anaemia, a life-threatening condition for both the mother and newborn, in which the body is depleted of healthy red blood cells.8 Surviving newborns may be severely underweight, and this could delay physical and mental development.

To ensure that millions of pregnant girls and women, and their newborns, are protected from the devastating consequences of malaria in pregnancy, the RBM Partnership to End Malaria renewed its ‘Speed Up Scale-Up of IPTp’ Call to Action on October 6, 2020. This advocacy campaign urges all stakeholders, including leaders and health policymakers across Africa, to prioritize that every pregnant woman and girl receives at least three doses of quality-assured antimalarial (sulfadoxine pyrimethamine, or SP), used as the intermittent preventive treatment of malaria in pregnancy (IPTp)


1. The Global Fund (2019). Technical Brief: Malaria, Gender and Human Rights https://www.theglobalfund.org/media/5536/core_malariagenderhumanrights_t...

2. 2019 Malaria Indicator Survey Ghana (page 19): girls aged 10-19 make up 20.7% of all households. https://dhsprogram.com/pubs/pdf/MIS35/MIS35.pdf

3. https://www.unicef.org/health/adolescent-health-and-well-being

4. https://www.who.int/maternal_child_adolescent/data/causes-death-adolesce...

5. https://healthpolicy-watch.news/combined-impact-of-covid-19-and-malaria-...

6. Lalloo, Dr & Olukoya, Peju & Olliaro, Piero. (2007). Malaria in adolescence: Burden of disease, consequences, and opportunities for intervention. The Lancet infectious diseases. 6. 780-93. 10.1016/S1473-3099(06)70655-7.

7. Adolescent Health Service Policy and Strategy (2016-2020), Ghana Health Service

8. World Health Organization 2017. https://www.who.int/malaria/areas/high_risk_groups/pregnancy/en/