Why prioritize pregnant women when fighting malaria?
Gilles Cottrell: Exposure to the parasite in early pregnancy can cause placental problems, which leads to low birth weight and ultimately to less healthy children. The children of infected mothers are also more sensitive to the parasite.
Armel Djènontin: Intermittent preventive treatment is counterindicated in the first trimester and only administered beginning in the fourth month. Before then, a mosquito net treated with long-acting insecticide is even more critical than it is during the rest of the pregnancy. In Benin, health centers hand them out during prenatal consultations.
What results did the first Evalmous study yield?
Armel Djènontin: Evalmous 1 was conducted in the riparian region in the south of the country and revealed that most pregnant women use a mosquito net. Unfortunately, the nets are often in bad shape. According to laboratory tests, only 7% of the mosquito nets analyzed were bio-effective, according to WHO criteria.
Gilles Cottrell: Even more alarming is that, while 60% of women said they received a new mosquito net from the health center, only 30% attested to actually using it. If this lack of use is confirmed, we’ll need a comprehensive qualitative investigation to explain it.
“Identifying the obstacles to protecting pregnant women against malaria”
What is the goal of Evalmous 2?
Armel Djènontin: We are expanding the study to confirm (or invalidate) these results and evaluate mosquito net distribution to pregnant women in 12 health centers across the country.
Gilles Cottrell: Ultimately, the goal is to support Benin’s National Malaria Control Program in establishing a 2021 National Strategic Plan, in particular by revising education measures for pregnant women. Why not link it with the malaria training we already give to community health workers through the Global Fund grant?