LAGOS – A medical researcher, Dr Bamidele Iwalokun, on Friday called for improved access to healthcare facilities in rural areas to reduce malaria-induced mortality among pregnant women.

Iwalokun, who works with the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Yaba, Lagos, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.

He said: “Malaria has become a major public health issue in the country.

“Malaria remains one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality among pregnant women and it accounts for 11 per cent of maternal mortality in the country.

“To reduce maternal mortality due to malaria, there is need to improve access to healthcare facilities and strengthen our National Anti-Malarial Treatment Policy, especially in the rural areas.”

Iwalokun, who noted that pregnant women were particularly vulnerable to malaria, said:

“Pregnancy makes a woman more susceptible to malaria infection and increases the risk of illness and severe anaemia.

“Malaria in pregnancy can also pose a threat to the unborn child.

“It increases the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth and premature delivery,” he said.

According to him, prompt and accurate diagnosis of malaria should be part of effective management of malaria in pregnant women.

“ Having access to prompt and proper health services remains a major problem in the effective management of malaria during pregnancy.

“Improving access to skilled attendants and promoting cost-effective intervention will help reduce maternal deaths and morbidity caused by malaria,” he said.

Iwalokun said that access to health facilities in rural areas was difficult due to the limited number of healthcare providers and trained personnel.[eap_ad_2]

“In the rural areas, access to easy and affordable healthcare is difficult because of the limited number of healthcare providers.

“ There is need for government to provide continuous training for the lower level health cadres and informal providers to improve healthcare coverage in the rural areas. “Also, there is need to intensify awareness campaign on the dangers of malaria in pregnancy,” the researcher said.

He said the effects of malaria in pregnancy could be reduced through adherence to treatment guidelines and attendance of antenatal clinics.

“To reduce the negative effect of malaria on the mother and the unborn child, the World Health Organisation recommends Intermittent Preventive Treatment (IPT) of malaria.

“IPT requires that every pregnant woman takes anti-malaria drug whether or not they have symptoms of malaria.

“IPT treatment involves administering full dosage of sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine which should include a minimum of three doses from the second trimester till delivery.

“No hospital should run out of supply of sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine,” Iwalokun said.

According to him, other measures to prevent malaria in pregnancy include the use of Insecticide Treated Nets (ITNs) by mother from the first-trimester of pregnancy. (NAN)[eap_ad_3]

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