By: Mariko Rasmussen, Communications Specialist at Women Deliver
In Angola, child and maternal mortality rates are among the highest in the world. There are multiple causes for this dire distinction, and Pathfinder has implemented programs to help address two of the most prominent – malaria and a lack of access to safe delivery facilities. Although malaria is preventable, it is a major cause of maternal and newborn illness and death in the country.
Pregnant women and their newborn children are particularly vulnerable to the disease. While most women in high-transmission areas develop a level of immunity, pregnancy can decrease this. Malaria in pregnancy contributes to severe maternal anemia, low birth weight and impaired child development. Though malaria has detrimental effects on pregnant women and their infants, it was a relatively neglected problem until the past decade, with less than 5% of pregnant women having access to effective interventions.
In many areas of Angola, including the Luanda Province, hospitals are hours away. Pathfinder has undertaken construction of two maternity wards in Kilamba Kiaxe and Cacuaco to improve access to care and increase the number of safe deliveries. New delivery staff are being trained to provide insecticide treated nets for malaria protection, voluntary counseling and testing services for HIV/AIDS, postpartum family planning services, and vitamin supplementation within these maternity wards to ensure women receive much needed care.
Pathfinder has also launched A Healthy Malaria-Free Life initiative, which focuses on diminishing rates of malaria in pregnant women and children under the age of five in the communities surrounding the wards. The initiative addresses malaria morbidity and mortality by:
- monitoring the distribution of insecticide treated nets to mothers;
- collaborating with health facilities that offer IPT to pregnant women;
- integrating malaria prevention into existing family planning services;
- providing malaria prevention information to the community; and,
- mobilizing community members to take action towards malaria prevention.
- providing training for maternal health providers in Cacuaco and Kilamba Kiaxi municipalities, focusing on pre and post-natal care, family planning with sessions on malaria prevention and treatment for pregnant women;
- distributing informational materials and facilitating behavior change workshops about malaria prevention and family planning for distribution in the health facilities and communities.
- providing training for community agents to connect health providers and those they serve;
- organizing community activities around malaria, malaria prevention, and the need for pregnant women to be especially vigilant during their pregnancies;
- supporting community agents to conduct home visits and discussions in key community gathering places;
Pathfinder is committed to significantly reducing maternal mortality in Angola. Integrating malaria in pregnancy services as part of routine antenatal care is an important, live-saving intervention.
LEARN more about the Angola Maternities Project here.
LEARN more about A Healthy Malaria-Free Life initiative here.
Photo via Alfred Weidinger