Open Access Research article

Availability and utilization of malaria prevention strategies in pregnancy in eastern India

Blair J Wylie123*, Ahmar H Hashmi1, Neeru Singh45, Mrigendra P Singh4, Jordan Tuchman16, Mobassir Hussain4, Lora Sabin12, Kojo Yeboah-Antwi12, Camellia Banerjee1, Mohamad I Brooks1, Meghna Desai7, Venkatachalam Udhayakumar7, William B MacLeod12, Aditya P Dash8 and Davidson H Hamer129

Author Affiliations

1 Center for Global Health and Development, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA

2 Department of International Health, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA

3 Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA

4 National Institute of Malaria Research Field Station, Jabalpur, India

5 Regional Medical Research Centre for Tribals (Indian Council for Medical Research), Jabalpur, India

6 Center for Leadership and Management, Management Sciences for Health, Cambridge, MA, USA

7 Malaria Branch, Division of Parasitic Diseases, National Center for Zoonotic Vector Borne and Enteric Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA

8 National Institute of Malaria Research, Delhi, India

9 Section of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Public Health 2010, 10:557  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-557

Published: 17 September 2010



Malaria in pregnancy in India, as elsewhere, is responsible for maternal anemia and adverse pregnancy outcomes such as low birth weight and preterm birth.

It is not known whether prevention and treatment strategies for malaria in pregnancy (case management, insecticide-treated bednets, intermittent preventive therapy) are widely utilized in India.


This cross-sectional study was conducted during 2006-2008 in two states of India, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, at 7 facilities representing a range of rural and urban populations and areas of more versus less stable malaria transmission. 280 antenatal visits (40/site) were observed by study personnel coupled with exit interviews of pregnant women to assess emphasis upon, availability and utilization of malaria prevention practices by health workers and pregnant women. The facilities were assessed for the availability of antimalarials, lab supplies and bednets.


All participating facilities were equipped to perform malaria blood smears; none used rapid diagnostic tests. Chloroquine, endorsed for chemoprophylaxis during pregnancy by the government at the time of the study, was stocked regularly at all facilities although the quantity stocked varied. Availability of alternative antimalarials for use in pregnancy was less consistent. In Jharkhand, no health worker recommended bednet use during the antenatal visit yet over 90% of pregnant women had bednets in their household. In Chhattisgarh, bednets were available at all facilities but only 14.4% of health workers recommended their use. 40% of the pregnant women interviewed had bednets in their household. Only 1.4% of all households owned an insecticide-treated bednet; yet 40% of all women reported their households had been sprayed with insecticide. Antimalarial chemoprophylaxis with chloroquine was prescribed in only 2 (0.7%) and intermittent preventive therapy prescribed in only one (0.4%) of the 280 observed visits.


A disconnect remains between routine antenatal practices in India and known strategies to prevent and treat malaria in pregnancy. Prevention strategies, in particular the use of insecticide-treated bednets, are underutilized. Gaps highlighted by this study combined with recent estimates of the prevalence of malaria during pregnancy in these areas should be used to revise governmental policy and target increased educational efforts among health care workers and pregnant women.