The First Lady, Rebecca Akufo-Addo, has appealed to the international community and stakeholders to help scale up efforts aimed at using Intermittent Preventive Treatment (IPT) to protect pregnant women and their unborn babies from the harmful effects of malaria during pregnancy.
Mrs Akufo-Addo made the call when she addressed participants at a side event organised by Devet at the Neuehouse, Madison Square, New York, on the sidelines of the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on the theme: "Protecting Pregnant Women against Malaria: Speeding up Uptake to IPT in affected African countries".
The event, which was sponsored and convened by Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership To End Malaria, invited African First Ladies to provide leadership to the continuation of the campaign and join as champions, the effort to scale up access and uptake of antenatal care services and IPT on the African continent.
"Our pregnant women must receive IPT once a month or at least three times, during pregnancy.
We must also ensure that they sleep under treated bed net in addition to effective case management of malaria when necessary.
This can help save the lives of pregnant women and their unborn children," Mrs Akufo-Addo said.
The First Lady, who is also the Chairperson of the Infanta Malaria Prevention Foundation, affirmed its support of Ghana’s Malaria Prevention Programme, saying “we will continue to educate, create awareness, conduct medical outreaches, provide insecticide treated nets and construct more primary health facilities known in Ghana as CHPS compounds”.
The First Lady of Liberia, Clar Weah, in solidarity remarks, said she has been very much inspired in her work in malaria prevention in Liberia, by the First Lady Rebecca Akufo-Addo.
Globally, one in three pregnant women suffer from malaria in moderate to high transmission countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
Malaria in pregnancy is a leading cause of maternal anemia and malaria in the fetus.
It is also responsible for approximately 10,000 maternal deaths and 100,000 newborn deaths in Africa yearly.
IPT is used as early as in the second trimester and taken once each month at least three times during pregnancy, and it can save the lives of both expectant mothers and their unborn children from malaria, together with sleeping under a bed net and effective treatment of malaria.
In 2022, as part of efforts to increase access to IPT for pregnant women, the malaria in the pregnancy working group of the RBM Partnership to End Malaria initiated the "Speed Up Scale Up IPTP campaign".
Over 1,000 people signed a letter under the umbrella of the campaign from some 300 organisations in 43 countries in Africa, calling on decision makers to support access to all eligible pregnant women with the malaria preventive treatment they need.
A book with the signatures was handed over to the African Leaders Malaria Alliance at a media briefing and malaria awards ceremony at the 2023 African Union Summit.