World Malaria Day: Pregnant women on high risk of malaria

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World Malaria Day

Pregnant women face heightened risks of malaria as pregnancy reduces immunity making them more susceptible to infection and severe disease. Without timely and appropriate intervention, malaria in pregnancy can have devastating consequences, including severe anaemia, maternal death, stillbirth, premature delivery, and low-birth-weight babies.

The World Health Organization on this World Malaria Day has called to accelerate the fight against malaria for a more equitable world. The global health body aid that in recent years, global efforts to reduce malaria have stagnated, posing a significant threat to public health and exacerbating inequalities within communities.

Ms Saima Wazed, WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia, said infants and young children, especially those under five, are particularly affected, with disparities in access to education and financial resources compounding their risk. “Refugees, migrants, internally displaced people, and indigenous people are also at heightened risk of malaria, often excluded from disease control efforts and experiencing adverse conditions where malaria thrives. Climate change and humanitarian emergencies exacerbate these challenges, displacing populations and making them more susceptible to the disease”, she said.

Malaria remains a significant public health challenge in the region affecting nine out of eleven countries and accounting for a third of the global burden outside Africa. She said the journey towards malaria elimination is far from over. While several countries are on track to meet the Global Technical Strategy (GTS) targets, challenges persist, particularly in countries like Indonesia and Myanmar.

“The dominance of P. vivax in certain countries presents unique challenges, necessitating tailored strategies for effective control and treatment. Furthermore, the threat of imported cases in countries like Bhutan, Nepal and Timor-Leste underscores the importance of regional collaboration and cross-border surveillance to prevent resurgence and achieve sustainable malaria elimination”, said Saima Wazed.