Perceptions and practices for preventing malaria in pregnancy in a peri-urban setting in south-western Uganda

Type Journal Article - Malaria journal
Title Perceptions and practices for preventing malaria in pregnancy in a peri-urban setting in south-western Uganda
Volume 15
Issue 1
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2016
Malaria in pregnancy contributes greatly to maternal morbidity and mortality in Uganda. Thus it is urgent to identify possible barriers that limit access to existing interventions. The aim of this study was to assess perceptions and practices regarding malaria prevention during pregnancy in a peri-urban area and explore ways to scale-up malaria prevention interventions, since little is known about malaria in peri-urban settings.

A survey was conducted in Kabale municipality south-western Uganda from April–June, 2015. Data was collected using a structured questionnaire targeting pregnant women, who delivered in the study area 1 year prior to the survey. Univariate analyses were performed at assess the level of knowledge and practices on malaria prevention during pregnancy.

A total of 800 women was interviewed. The majority of women, 96.1 % knew that malaria was a dangerous disease in pregnancy; 60.3 % knew that it caused anaemia, and 71.3 % associated malaria with general weakness. However, fewer women (44.9 %) knew that malaria in pregnancy caused abortions, while 14.9 % thought it caused stillbirths. Similarly, few women (19 %) attended the recommend four antenatal care visits; less than a half (48.8 %) accessed two doses of sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) for malaria prevention in pregnancy while 16.3 % received at least three doses of SP, as recommended by the current policy. The main reasons for poor antenatal care attendance were: women felt healthy and did not see a need to go for antenatal care, long distances and long waiting hours at clinics. The reasons given for not taking SP for malaria prevention were: women were not feeling sick; they were not aware of the benefits of SP in pregnancy, they were sleeping under insecticide-treated nets; fear of side effects of SP; and the antenatal care clinics were far.

Despite a good knowledge that malaria is a dangerous disease in pregnancy, there was poor access to antenatal care and use of SP for malaria prevention in pregnancy. There is urgent to address existing health system constraints in order to increases access to malaria prevention in pregnancy in this setting.

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