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Pregnant women - the missing link in malaria control

Mosquito net.

Despite the fact that pregnant women in Liberia are more at risk to contract malaria because of their lowered immunity, less than half of them sleep under insecticide-treated mosquito nets, according to the National Malaria Control Program.

“It pains me when I see pregnant women dying from malaria in this country,” the programme’s director Joel Jones told IRIN. There were approximately 180,000 pregnant women in 2006, or 5 percent of the population, according to the government.

Following a civil war that spanned 14 years, health workers found only one-third of pregnant women slept under mosquito nets in 2005, according to the country’s last comprehensive malaria survey.

That percentage has inched up in recent years as 600,000 insecticide treated nets have been passed out to pregnant women and under-five children, who are equally vulnerable to infection.

But these nets are not enough to cover the most vulnerable said the government’s Jones.

''I am three months pregnant and am afraid I will lose my unborn baby''

Kumba Lamin, 24, spoke to IRIN from John F. Kennedy Hospital in the capital, Monrovia, where she was hospitalised. Following a routine clinic visit on 15 April, she said her doctor told her she needed to be admitted for malaria treatment. “I am feeling very tired and weak. My joints are weak. I have vomited twice now and my skin is burning with fever,” she told IRIN one week into her hospital stay, shortly before her release.

“I am three months pregnant and am afraid I will lose my unborn baby. The mosquitoes are [everywhere] in our community. I am sure [it is] because there is dirty water all over the place. The mosquitoes give us a hard time every night,” said Lamin.

She said the Ministry of Health had given her a free insecticide-treated net, but she did not use it because it was too hot.

She told IRIN she sold it at the local market.

Malaria was the leading cause of in-patient deaths in Liberia in 2006, according to the government.


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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