Expectant women urged to attend ANC before 16 weeks


NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 5- Pregnant women in areas that are prone to Malaria have been urged to attend their first antenatal clinic prior to 16 weeks, so that they can get three doses of Fansidar before they deliver, as the government continues scaling up steps to eradicate the disease.

Speaking during the launch of the Kenya Malaria Indicator Survey report of 2015 on Tuesday, Acting Director of Medical Services Dr. Jackson Kioko expressed concern that the uptake of the three doses had been low because most expectant women turned up for their first antenatal clinics while already in their third trimester.

Dr. Kioko explained that the drug’s administration was aimed at protecting mothers and their unborn babies from Malaria, which causes low birth weight and still births in some cases.

“Women come for their antenatal clinics very late making it difficult to give them all the three Malaria doses,” he said.

Head of the National Malaria Control Programme Dr. Waqo Ejersa added that the treatment was currently being given to women in 14 Counties which are considered endemic.

They include: Siaya, Kisumu, Migori, Homabay, Vihiga, Kakamega, Bungoma, Busia, Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi, Tana River, Lamu and Taita Taveta.

“We are supposed to give expectant women in these areas Fansidar at 16, 20 and 24 weeks. The goal is to give them three doses that are four weeks apart and we start at 16 weeks because it is unsafe to do so before that,” he said.

The uptake of the drug’s second dose had however gone up with the report noting that 56 percent of pregnant women had had two Fansidar doses.

According to the report, the prevalence rate of Malaria in the country has also dropped from 11 percent to eight percent.

Dr. Kioko however noted that the Coastal region had reported a four percent increase in prevalence.

“The results of the coastal region are a clear indication that more efforts are required to sustain the fragile gains,” he said.

World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Representative for Kenya Dr. Custodia Mandlhate said that it was important to develop County prevalence of Malaria to be able to tailor make strategies that would suit each County’s needs in the fight against the disease.

“We can reduce Malaria to 4 percent and we believe in its elimination. Kenya bila Malaria; Pamoja tuendelee kuangamiza Malaria,” she observed.

USAID’s Director, Office of Population and Health, Barbara Hughes added that the report showed that Kenya had made significant strides in the eradication of Malaria.

She further revealed that USAID set aside 35 million dollars each year in efforts to eliminate Malaria.

“We are shrinking the Malaria prevalence map and together we can stop the disease,” she said.

Other partners whose efforts were lauded during the launch were the United Kingdom International Aid Department, UNICEF, the Global Fund, Measure Evaluation, DHS Programme, Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, Kenya Medical Research Institute and the Monitoring and Evaluation Technical Working Group.