Preventing Malaria in Pregnant Women in Tanzania Through Training Health Workers

Aug 2008
As part of her antenatal visit, Halima received her first dose of tablets to prevent malaria and a voucher she could redeem at a local shop for a low cost mosquito net.
Health worker Francisca Lyoba gives soon-to-be mother Halima Athmani antimalaria medicine at an urban health care facility in Tanzania’s Morogoro district. Source: Karie Atkinson/USA

Francisca Lyoba, a health worker at an urban health center in Tanzania’s Morogoro District, is one of about 450 health workers across the country that, as of October 2006, had received training through U.S. assistance in how to give antimalarial medicine to pregnant women. This is one component of a comprehensive antenatal care program carried out by JHPIEGO, an international health organization affiliated with Johns Hopkins University.

The idea of the antenatal care training, given during pre-service midwifery education and as part of a six-day training course, is to combine all the needs of pregnant women into four visits. According to JHPIEGO, while 95 percent of pregnant women attend at least one antenatal visit, only 64 percent come for four visits. These visits are critical to the health of the mother and her infant.

Twenty-eight-year old Halima Athmani, who is five months pregnant, came to the clinic for her first dose of the preventive medicine. She will receive at least two doses during her pregnancy. "It is important to come in for the medicines as malaria can cause anemia, stillbirth and low infant birth weight," Lyoba communicated to the young mother-to-be.

She also counseled the young woman on the importance of sleeping under an insecticide-treated mosquito net and taking advantage of the national program that allows pregnant mothers and infants to obtain nets at a very low cost.

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