The First Lady, Rebecca Akufo-Addo, has implored global communities and stakeholders to amplify efforts to use Intermittent Preventive Treatment (IPT) as a shield against the adverse effects of malaria on pregnant women and their unborn children.
The call was made during her address at a side event, held at Neuehouse, Madison Square, New York, alongside the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). The event was themed “Protecting Pregnant Women against Malaria: Speeding up Uptake to IPT in affected African countries”.
The Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership To End Malaria, which sponsored and orchestrated the event, extended an invitation to African First Ladies. The aim was for these influential women to lend their leadership to the ongoing campaign and champion the endeavour to expand the accessibility and uptake of antenatal care services and IPT across the African continent.
The First Lady, Mrs. Akufo-Addo, has emphasized the critical role of preventive measures in the fight against malaria, particularly for pregnant women. She urged that these women should receive Intermittent Preventive Treatment (IPT) at least three times during pregnancy or once a month. She also highlighted the importance of sleeping under treated bed nets.
Mrs. Akufo-Addo, who also serves as the Chairperson of the Infanta Malaria Prevention Foundation, pledged the foundation’s unwavering support for Ghana’s Malaria Prevention Programme.
She stated, “Our mission continues to be educating the public, raising awareness, conducting medical outreaches, distributing insecticide-treated nets, and building more primary health facilities, known locally as CHPS compounds.”
In her solidarity remarks, Clar Weah, the First Lady of Liberia, shared her admiration for the First Lady Rebecca Akufo-Addo. She mentioned how her work in malaria prevention in Liberia has been greatly inspired by the First Lady’s efforts. Mrs. Akufo-Addo’s commitment to saving the lives of pregnant women and their unborn children through effective malaria management has proven to be a significant inspiration for her.
Malaria, a significant health issue globally, has a profound impact on pregnant women, particularly those residing in sub-Saharan Africa. In these regions, moderate to high transmission rates mean that about one-third of pregnant women are affected by this disease.
IPT, or Intermittent Preventive Treatment, has emerged as a key strategy in the fight against malaria. Administered from the second trimester, IPT is recommended to be taken once a month, at least three times during pregnancy. This, along with the use of treated bed nets and prompt, effective treatment of malaria, can drastically lower the mortality rates of both mothers and newborns due to malaria.
However, the gravity of the situation has led to the launch of the “Speed Up Scale Up IPTP campaign” by the RBM Partnership to End Malaria’s working group on malaria in pregnancy in 2022. The aim of this campaign is to ensure that all eligible pregnant women have access to IPT.
In a show of solidarity, over 1,000 individuals from nearly 300 organizations across 43 African countries have signed a letter. This letter, compiled into a book, serves as a demand to decision-makers to support the campaign and increase access to malaria preventive treatment.
The book of signatures was presented to the African Leaders Malaria Alliance at the 2023 African Union Summit, during a media briefing and malaria awards ceremony. This marked a significant step in the fight against malaria, emphasizing the need for collective action and support from leaders.