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Malaria Prevention Efforts Miss Many Pregnant Women in Africa

From VOA Learning English, this is the Health Report.

Malaria kills about 200,000 newborn babies and 10,000 new mothers every year. Most of these deaths are in Africa. Malaria can also cause mothers to lose their babies before they are born, or cause a baby to be born early. There are low-cost ways to prevent malaria infections. But a new study finds that many pregnant women do not receive these interventions.

For example, the World Health Organization has advised pregnant women in areas with high rates of malaria to sleep under bed nets treated with insecticide. The WHO also advises them to get what is known as intermittent preventive treatment, or IPT. This treatment involves taking a low-cost anti-malaria drug at certain times in their pregnancy in an effort to prevent the disease. The WHO recommends that pregnant women receive the medicine during visits to a clinic. Many pregnant women and new mothers go to medical clinics in sub-Saharan Africa.

Yet researchers say only about 21 percent receive intermittent preventive treatment during their pregnancy. And less than 40 percent are given protective bed nets. Jenny Hill from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine is program manager for a research partnership called the Malaria and Pregnancy Consortium. Ms. Hill says a review of 98 studies found a number of barriers to malaria prevention. These include unclear policy and guidance from government and health care officials. Other problems include drug shortages, a lack of clean water, and confusion about how to administer IPT. Ms. Hill says countries can save lives by following the WHO policy on intermittent preventive treatment.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Alex Villarreal.