OBJECTIVE: The main objective of the study was to assess the impact of a community-based delivery system of intermittent preventive treatment (IPT) for malaria in pregnancy with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) on access, parasitemia, anemia and low birth weight as primary outcome measures. METHODS: A study was designed to test the community-based delivery system of IPT through traditional birth attendants (TBAs), drug-shop vendors (DSVs), community reproductive health workers (CRHWs) and adolescent peer mobilizers (APMs), and to compare these with IPT at health units in an area of high malaria transmission - Mukono District, Uganda. RESULTS: Two thousand seven hundred and eighty-five pregnant women participated in the study. The majority of the women (92.4%) at the community-based approaches received their first dose of IPT during their second trimester compared to 76.1% at health units (p<0.0001). At both health units and the community-based approaches, IPT increased mean hemoglobin by 6.7% (p<0.0001) for all parities and by 10.2% among primigravidae. IPT reduced the prevalence of severe anemia from 5.7% to 3.1% (p<0.04). The prevalence of parasitemia was reduced from 24.5% to 16.1% (p<0.001), and parasite density reduced significantly (p<0.02) after the first dose and remained stable with the second dose. Overall the proportion of low birth weight was 6.3% (8.3% at health units versus 6.0% at the community-based approaches, p<0.03) highlighting the importance of access and adherence to IPT. This intervention was acceptable to 89.6% of the women at the community-based approaches intending to use IPT in the future, while 48.1% of them had recommended it to other women. CONCLUSIONS: The community-based approaches increased access and adherence to IPT with an effect on anemia, severe anemia, parasitemia and low birth weight. However the reduced effect of IPT on parasitemia points to drug resistance with SP and this requires further evaluation; research into the identification of other more efficacious drugs for malaria prevention in pregnancy is also required.
Keywords: Adolescent; Adult; Anemia; Antimalarials; Case-Control Studies; Community Health Aides; Drug Administration Schedule; Drug Therapy, Combination; Female; Humans; Infant, Low Birth Weight; Infant, Newborn; Malaria, Falciparum; Middle Aged; Midwifery; Parasitemia; Pregnancy; Pregnancy Complications, Parasitic; Pregnancy Outcome; Prenatal Care; Pyrimethamine; Sulfadoxine; Uganda