World Malaria Day is marked every year on April 25th as a means of raising awareness and galvanising efforts to fight malaria. The theme for 2018 is “Ready to Beat Malaria”.
Malaria is estimated to be humanity’s oldest disease, but since 2000, modern science combined with unprecedented local and global action has delivered record progress, with malaria deaths cut by over 60%, saving almost 7 million lives. However, progress has slowed and could be rapidly reversed if vital support for the malaria fight is not sustained. Half the world still lives at risk from this preventable, treatable disease and it kills over 400,000 people a year, the majority of whom are children under five and pregnant women. Indeed, malaria claims the life of a child every two minutes.
Malaria during pregnancy brings significant risks for the pregnant woman and her baby, including the risk of anaemia in the mother and low birth weight in babies. It can also lead to an increased risk of severe malaria, spontaneous abortion, stillbirth and prematurity. The package of interventions for malaria during pregnancy includes the use of long-lasting insecticidal nets, intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy provided in antenatal care services in areas with moderate to high transmission, and prompt diagnosis and treatment of malaria infections.
With this in mind, the Centre for Maternal and Newborn Health is working in partnership with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria and selected countries for quality improvement of integrated care for the three diseases - including malaria - during and after pregnancy. As part of the programme, healthcare providers in malaria endemic countries in Africa and Asia participate in a five-day competency based workshop, which covers all aspects of antenatal and postnatal care in a holistic and comprehensive way.
Two manuals have been developed by CMNH to support the workshop: ‘A Manual for Healthcare providers’ and a ‘Facilitators Manual’. The facilitator manual forms the basis of the programme and has fifty-two interactive stations during which learning is disseminated. More than ten of these stations focus on prevention and treatment of malaria in antenatal and postnatal care. The participant manual is a resource for healthcare providers who care for pregnant women during and after pregnancy.
Two workshops were held at CMNH last week to orientate and train UK volunteers in the new antenatal and postnatal training package as we move into the implementation phase of the programme. Volunteers who participated in the programme said ‘group discussion are brilliant as the group gets to know each other and be comfortable and supportive – the transfer of knowledge can be huge’ and that the ‘scenarios are well written commonly encountered clinical presentation – they deal with immediate presentation and management’. They also felt that the holistic nature of the workshop was a ‘very important step in improving mental health before, during and after pregnancy’.
Professor Dr Monir Islam, Senior Technical Officer at CMNH responsible for this programme said, “We hope that rolling out this training package will contribute to support healthcare providers on the ground who are ready to beat malaria once and for all”.
As we broaden our scope into Francophone countries, we are keen to increase our French speaking capacity within our existing body of volunteers. If you are a midwife or obstetrician who is fluent in French and have experience in teaching we would be delighted to hear from you. If you would like to find out more information about our new manuals or would be keen to volunteer with CMNH and are fluent in French please contact us on CMNH@lstmed.ac.uk.