Angela Kangulumais is a primary school teacher in Zambia. When we met her she was 6 months pregnant with her second child and no stranger to malaria. Just before her first pregnancy, she had nursed a headache for over a week and woke up one morning unable to see properly and walk unaided. With the help of her husband, she went to the local clinic where she was diagnosed with malaria and prescribed artemisinin combination therapy (ACT). Within a day, she felt much better.
For Angela, the need to protect herself from malaria becomes an even greater priority when she is pregnant. Bed nets are one solution. However, Angela explained. “This method alone is inadequate as I can’t always be under the net”.
Pregnant women at risk of malaria like Angela benefit from IPTp. According to WHO, this highly cost-effective intervention reduces the chances they will contract malaria and their unborn babies will die. With low coverage levels today, IPTp with SP must be rolled out more broadly in regions where it is effective.
In response, RBM’s Malaria in Pregnancy working group and WHO launched a Call to Action in 2014 advocating greater uptake. In parallel, the search continues for new regimens to replace SP in the future.