The Prevalence and Risk of Malaria in Pregnancy

Malaria poses significant dangers to pregnant women and their fetuses. Pregnant women face greater risks of malaria complications and mortality compared to non-pregnant women of the same age. Malaria in pregnancy can lead to maternal anemia, fetal loss, preterm birth, low birthweight, and cognitive-developmental delays in infants. Of the five malaria parasite species that infect humans, Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax are the major contributors to adverse maternal and pregnancy outcomes. In 2020, malaria in pregnancy was estimated to result in 819 000 low-birthweight babies in sub-Saharan Africa. WHO recommends prompt diagnosis and treatment of malaria in pregnancy as well as malaria prevention with long-lasting insecticide-treated nets and intermittent preventive treatment with sulfadoxine–pyrimethamine from the second trimester onwards in malaria-endemic areas.

By WHO subregion, prevalence of exposure to malaria during pregnancy in 2022 was highest in west Africa, where about 6.4 million (39.3%) of an estimated 16.2 million pregnant women had malaria infections, and in central Africa, where about 3.4 million (40.1%) of the 8.3 million pregnant women were infected with malaria. The prevalence of malaria infection in pregnant women was lower in the subregion of east and southern Africa (27%) than in other subregions in 2022; however, the number of infected women in east and southern Africa (2.9 million) was similar to that in central Africa (3.4 million).

Nigeria, exemplifies the severity of the issue. It accounts for roughly 25% of the malaria burden in the western African region. Studies conducted within the country have shown alarming prevalence rates, ranging from 63.7% to over 99% of pregnant women testing positive for malaria parasites.

At Sociocapital, we pride ourselves on pioneering transformative health research and interventions aimed at improving Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health (RMNCH) outcomes. We have partnered with national and international bodies to implement reproductive, maternal and child health interventions, including programs to increase access to critical products and commodities using a blend of public health supply chain and market-system strengthening, accelerating innovations such as the Group Antenatal Care, supporting country transition from ironfolic acid to multi-micronutrient supplementation to enhance nutrition in pregnancy, and integrated demand and supply-side interventions to reduce malaria burden, etc. Explore our work here