Prevention and treatment of malaria in pregnancy: what do pregnant women and health care workers in East India know and do about it?

Research paper by Lora Sabin, Evan M. S. Hecht, Mohamad I. Brooks, Mrigendra P. Singh, Kojo Yeboah-Antwi, Abanish Rizal, Blair J. Wylie, Philip A. Bondzie, Matthew Banos, Jordan Tuchman, Neeru Singh, Davidson H. Hamer

Indexed on: 19 May '18Published on: 18 May '18Published in: Malaria Journal


Limited qualitative research has been performed in India to investigate views and behaviours of pregnant women regarding malaria despite the threat of malaria-related adverse maternal and neonatal outcomes. To address this gap, a comprehensive study on malaria prevention and treatment attitudes, knowledge and behaviour among pregnant women in India was conducted.Pregnant women and healthcare workers (HCWs), encompassing clinic-based providers, traditional birth attendants, and auxiliary nurse-midwives were enrolled for in-depth interviews (IDIs) at 7 hospital sites and nearby communities in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh States. Questions addressed health concerns and attitudes, knowledge and practices regarding malaria prevention and treatment; probing covered modern and traditional approaches. Data were analyzed using a thematic approach.A total of 83 pregnant women and 119 HCWs participated in 202 IDIs, 90 in Jharkhand and 112 in Chhattisgarh. A majority of Jharkhand respondents, but only one-fourth in Chhattisgarh, named malaria among top health issues for pregnant women. Just over half of pregnant women were willing to try new prevention methods (especially insecticide-treated bed nets), although cost-related barriers to such methods were stressed. Most respondents voiced concerns about malaria treatment during pregnancy, mainly citing potential harm to the baby. Most knew that mosquitoes transmitted malaria, but a substantial minority, including among HCWs, described incorrect transmission modes. Most knew a proven prevention method (usually bed nets or coils); a few knew other methods. A minority of pregnant women, but most HCWs, knew about malaria treatment, although some HCWs described unproven treatments. Most respondents described use of modern prevention methods in their communities, typically bed nets, although probing revealed irregular use. Half (especially in Jharkhand and particularly HCWs) described use of traditional prevention approaches such as burning leaves and rubbing oils on the body; traditional remedies for malaria treatment were common, and varied by site and population.Understanding of malaria varied as a concern for pregnant women, continued use of unproven malaria prevention and treatment strategies was evident in this population in India. These results highlight the need to educate both pregnant women and HCWs about effective malaria methods to protect pregnant women and their babies from malaria.

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