Lelio Marmora, the Executive Director of Unitaid, an international body that works closely with the World Health Organisation (WHO), said in Maputo on Monday that ten million US dollars will be invested in combating malaria among pregnant women. He was speaking at the launch of the programme TIPTOP (Transforming Intermittent Preventive Treatment for Optimal Pregnancy), which is projected to reach about 100,000 pregnant women in Mozambique. Malaria is a major threat to pregnant women and their babies. According to the survey of 2015 on Indicators of Immunization, Malaria, HIV/AIDS in Mozambique (IMASIDA), more than 28 per cent of pregnant women are infected with malaria. To make matters worse, most pregnant women seek ante-natal services late in their pregnancy, which contributes to low coverage of Intermittent Preventive Treatment of malaria. The IMASIDA survey showed that less than 25 per cent of women received three or more doses of sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) during their last pregnancy. This is the drug recommended by WHO for use in IPT, often sold under the brand name Fansidar. Through the TIPTOP project, community health workers, health volunteers, traditional midwives and community counselors will administer SP at the community level, increasing the number of pregnant women accessing antenatal services. The programme is scheduled to last for five years in Mozambique, and it is hoped that the correct use of SP by the community health workers will lead to a reduction in maternal mortality. The project also covers Madagascar, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo, for a total budget of 50 million dollars, with 10 million dollars earmarked for Mozambique. Speaking at the Monday ceremony, Health Minister Nazira Abdula said TIPTOP will be implemented first in Nhamatanda district, in the central province of Sofala, and will then be expanded to Meconta and Rapale districts in Nampula, in the north. “Community mobilization will be undertaken”, she said, “with the selection and involvement of community structures, and training, implementation, monitoring and research to demonstrate results prior to later large scale implementation”.

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