Malaria prevention drug improves birth outcomes in Zambia

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Malaria causing Mosquito
Malaria causing Mosquito

A study recently carried in Zambia found that a drug recommended for the prevention of malaria in pregnant women also reduces the risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections and reproductive tract infections including gonorrhoea, chlamydia, trichomoniasis and bacterial vaginosis.

The study, carried out in Luapula province by researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine also found that the drug, sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine can lead to improved birth outcomes.

Women who received two or more doses of the drug saw their risk of experiencing stillbirth, low birth weight, preterm delivery or intrauterine growth retardation cut by 45 percent.

The study also found that women who received two or more doses of saw their risk of getting malaria reduced by 76 percent, while their risk of getting gonorrhoea or chlamydia was reduced by 92 percent.

Enesia Chaponda, the lead researcher, said that the study was prompted by an overlapping presence of malaria and Sexually Transmitted Infections and Reproductive Tract Infections in the region.

“These STIs and RTIs are prevalent in most places in Africa, so you find that in the areas that are hard-hit with malaria there is overlapping prevalence, and this has important public health implications, especially in pregnant women,” Chaponda said.

Nearly 39 percent of women in the study tested positive for both malaria parasites and at least one STI/RTI.

Treatable STIs/RTIs have been known to cause various complications in pregnancy.

According to the World Health Organisation, syphilis remains a leading cause of stillbirth and infant mortality in many parts of the world, while bacterial vaginosis and trichomoniasis cause complications such as prelabour rupture of membranes and preterm delivery.

Chaponda said that in Zambia, many STIs and RTIs remain untreated, since pregnant women are tested only for syphilis during their antenatal checkups.

“You find that a considerable burden of STIs in pregnancy remain undetected and untreated as you can have women with chlamydia or gonorrhea showing no symptoms, but this will impact on the birth outcome,” she said.

In addition, untreated malaria during pregnancy can cause infected red blood cells to gather in the placenta and block the exchange of nutrients between the mother and the fetus, resulting in miscarriage, stillbirth and low birth weight.

The good news, however, is that the proportion of pregnant women who receive malaria prevention treatment is now on the rise.

Samantha Jiri, a 27-year-old social worker and mother of two who lives in the province where the research was undertaken, attributes this improvement largely to the persistence of health workers.

“They now insist on giving you at least three [doses of] treatment for malaria prevention,” she said. “They also give you a mosquito net during your first antenatal visit and insist that you come back for at least two more preventative treatments.”

Persistent malaria infections in pregnant women in the region may be attributed to a failure to attend all recommended antenatal checkups.

Chaponda said that though the malaria prevention drug S.P. is given for free and is readily available in Zambia, some women in their study failed to get the recommended minimum of two treatments because they skipped antenatal checkups.

“They took the first dose and disappeared, and only showed up again at delivery,” she said.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Let the Government do it’s own research. That’s what the Government of Kenya is doing after finding out that the drugs coming from the West are not what they claim to be. Most drugs are laced with dangerous chemicals that cause women to never have children any more. The idea is to reduce the population of black people. Don’t trust anything coming from London or the West. Let the Ministry of Health in Zambia look into the side effects of this drug. The side effects maybe more dangerous than what it claims to cure.

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    • The Zambian Government has done a lot of research in most of the antimalarial drugs through the Tropical Diseases Research Centre (TDRC) in Ndola in collaboration with World Health Organisation (WHO-Geneva). These drugs are very safe I must assure you @Lombe (MA). Sulfadoxine/pyrimethamine is a combination medication used to treat malaria and sold under the brand name Fansidar. In some countries it is typically used along with other antimalarial medication such as artesunate. Side effects may include Gastrointestinal effects (e.g. nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea) and headache. Side effects may differ from one person to the other.

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    • Grow up Lombe, if the west and the US are anti black why are most of the LIFE saving drugs supplied by these countries including ARV’s that are given by the US. if they stopped today Zambians would be dieing left right and centre. if the west wanted blacks died they would stop their aid and scholarships. as for the Zambian govt. spending the money on research where is the money going to come from? they are already broke and are asking for a bail out from the IMF. its people like you that cause unrest in this country with ill and racist remarks.

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    • @Macgyver… you forgot to mention safety only after 16 weeks into the pregnancy. Teratogenic if given prior.

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  2. This disease is caused by people who only shower once.

    I shower atleast three times to remove dirt and toxics from my body and as such will never have malaria.

    Take showers Zambians

    Thanks

    BB2014,2016

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    • You are so thick Mushota. You are extravagantly thick and ignorant. What a nasty piece of work! Pity your parents for wasting napkins on you. You take those showers to wash off the sh!t that you have been spewing out . It is time you were stopped from writing sh!t.

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  3. Let this woman (Mushota) continue yapping and don’t pay attention please. She is an attention seeker, that’s all she knows. Nothing sensible she contributes.

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  4. @Lombe, masters of negativity shamed! They see negative in anything! This is UPND party at its core!

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