review of prospects, achievements, challenges and agenda for research
INTRODUCTION: Implementing Intermittent Preventive Treatment for malaria in Pregnancy (IPTp) with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) through antenatal care (ANC) clinics is recommended for malaria endemic countries. Vast biomedical literature on malaria prevention focuses more on the epidemiological and cost-effectiveness analyses of the randomised controlled trials carried out in selected geographical settings. Such studies fail to elucidate the economic, psychosocial, managerial, organization and other contextual systemic factors influencing the operational effectiveness, compliance and coverage of the recommended interventions. OBJECTIVE: To review literature on policy advances, achievements, constraints and challenges to malaria IPTp implementation, emphasising on its operational feasibility in the context of health-care financing, provision and uptake, resource constraints and psychosocial factors in Africa. RESULTS: The importance of IPTp in preventing unnecessary anaemia, morbidity and mortality in pregnancy and improving childbirth outcomes is highly acknowledged, although the following factors appear to be the main constraints to IPTp service delivery and uptake: cost of accessing ANC; myths and other discriminatory socio-cultural values on pregnancy; target users, perceptions and attitudes towards SP, malaria, and quality of ANC; supply and cost of SP at health facilities; understaffing and demoralised staff; ambiguity and impracticability of user-fee exemption policy guidelines on essential ANC services; implementing IPTp, bednets, HIV and syphilis screening programmes in the same clinic settings; and reports on increasing parasite resistant to SP. However, the noted increase in the coverage of the delivery of IPTp doses in several countries justify that IPTp implementation is possible and better than not. CONCLUSION: IPTp for malaria is implemented in constrained conditions in Africa. This is a challenge for higher coverage of at least two doses and attainment of the Abuja targets. Yet, there are opportunities for addressing the existing challenges, and one of the useful options is the evaluation of the acceptability and viability of the existing intervention guidelines.
Open Tropical Medicine Journal, 2008, Vol 1, p. 92-100