What is the Link between Malaria Prevention in Pregnancy and Neonatal Survival in Nigeria?
Neonatal mortality (NNM) is a major global public health concern causing 4 million deaths every year and accounting for 41% of under-five child mortality. Nigeria experiences the highest prevalence on the continent of Africa. NNM is caused by prematurity, neonatal infections, birth asphyxia and possibly malaria as explored in this article. Although malaria in pregnancy may not be a direct cause of neonatal mortality, it has a significant impact on maternal and neonatal health, especially in Nigeria where malaria transmission remains high. Malaria has been indirectly linked to neonatal mortality through maternal anaemia and placental parasitaemia which affects maternal fetal transfer of nutrients across the placenta leading to low birth weight (LBW).
Adeoye & Fagbamigbe (2019) used nationally representative data of Nigerian women of reproductive age to investigate the relationship between the malaria prevention in pregnancy and neonatal survival. The study found that Sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (IPT-SP), a combination of medications to treat malaria, and insecticide-treated bed nets (ITNs) are both cost-effective options to prevent neonatal mortality as these two treatments prevent low-birth weight which the most important cause of neonatal mortality. Furthermore, adequate antenatal care visits appear to improve neonatal survival rates. This is critical to the prevention of NNM as the visits allow for important interventions and health promotional activities for malaria prevention in pregnancy.
This article is very significant because it fills an important gap in the literature as little research has been conducted on the relationship between malaria prevention in pregnancy and neonatal mortality, especially in Nigeria. Based on the evidence in this article, the country would benefit from additional scientific research on the topic as in 2015, total neonatal deaths reached approximately 250,000. Further research and the implementation of prevention strategies could potentially save the lives of many future newborns.