Malaria infection during pregnancy can have adverse effects on both mother and foetus.
The negative effects imposed by Malaria include; maternal anemia, foetal loss, premature delivery, intrauterine growth retardation, and delivery of low birth weight infants.
Doctor Henry Karibushi, a gynaecologist at Butare University Hospital says that the disease is a common problem for women in their first and second pregnancies and for women who are HIV-positive.
He however notes that the problems caused by Malaria infection differ by the type of malaria transmission area that is to say whether high or low transmission areas.
He explains that in high transmission areas, women have gained a level of immunity to malaria that affects them during pregnancy.
Malaria infection is more likely to result in severe maternal anemia and delivery of low birth weight infants in this case. In many sub-Saharan African countries, many people face this problem.
In contrast, people living in low transmission areas of Malaria parasites, women have developed no immunity to the infection at all. In this case, malaria infection is likely to cause severe malaria, maternal anemia, premature delivery and foetal loss.
In sub-Saharan Africa, the world’s malaria hardest area, the infection is estimated to cause high cases of severe maternal anemia and infant deaths annually. Maternal anemia contributes significantly to maternal mortality and infant mortality in children below five years.
Doctor Karibushi says that low birth weight is the greatest risk factor for neonatal mortality and a major contributor to infant mortality. Although many factors contribute to low birth weight, malaria is a major factor and one of the few, along with poor nutrition, anemia, and other infections, that is amenable to intervention once a woman becomes pregnant.
He says Malaria is a serious and sometimes-fatal disease caused by a parasite. Patients with malaria are typically sick with high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness.
Four kinds of malaria parasites can infect humans and these are plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium vivax, and Plasmodium ovale and plasmodium malaria.
Infection with any of the malaria species can make a person feel ill; infection with P. falciparum, if not promptly treated, may be fatal. Although malaria can be a fatal disease, illness and death from malaria are largely preventable.
Plasmodium Falciparum parasite is the leading cause of malaria infection in sub-Saharan Africa and its prevention is a major concern to many African communities.
Malaria is one of the leading causes of death world wide especially in young children and pregnant mothers especially in developing countries. Since Malaria causes so much illness and death, the disease is a great drain on many national economies.
Since many countries with malaria are already among the poor nations, the disease maintains a vicious cycle of disease and poverty. Usually people get Malaria when bitten by an infected female anopheles mosquitoe.
Only Anopheles mosquitoes can transmit Malaria and they must have been infected through a previous blood meal taken on an infected person.
Prevention of malaria disease infection can be done through various ways such as keeping mosquitoes from biting you especially at night, taking anti-malarial drugs to kill the parasites, eliminating places around your home where mosquitoes breed, spraying insecticides on your home’s walls to kill adult mosquitoes that come inside, sleeping under mosquito nets is especially effective if they have been treated with insecticide and wearing insect repellent and long-sleeved clothing if out of doors at night.
Recently, the ministry of health launched a mechanism of spraying insecticides in homes as an effort to eradicate increasing cases of Malaria infection in the country.
The treatment of Malaria is important at early stage. Several good anti- malarial drugs are available, and should be administered early enough. The commonly used drugs in Rwanda today are coartem drug, quinine and Artemisinin.
It is important to understand that Malaria can be cured with prescription of drugs. The type of drugs and length of treatment depend on which kind of Malaria is diagnosed, where the patient was infected, the age of the patient, whether the patient is pregnant, and how severely ill the patient is at start of treatment.
Drugs that can be used for prevention and treatment of Malaria include Chloroquine, Amodiaquine, and anti-folate drugs that contain sulfa drug – pyrimethamine combinations and others to mention but a few.