Lifting the burden in Senegal

Thursday, January 17, 2013

WWHI begins work to prevent and treat malaria and anemia in pregnant women

Kedougou, Senegal – This month marks the launch of a maternal health program aimed at ending malaria and anemia's deathly grip on rural villages in Senegal. Women's World Health Initiative, along with Senegal's Ministry of Health, is on the ground training community health workers and implementing the Community-based Malaria and Anemia Program (CB-MAP) in the southeastern region of Senegal's most remote area, the Saraya health district.

Over the last three years, WWHI Executive Director Dana Allison and board members from around the world, have visited Senegal to collect information about cultural practices and assess the morbidity caused by high levels of malaria infection and anemia in pregnant women; hired local staff; and have become acquainted with the local communities to create a sustainable health program based on the communities' needs.

"We're confident that this program addresses a specific and fundamental public health care problem and that has immediate and measurable outcomes," says Allison.

Each year, 50 million women living in malaria-endemic countries become pregnant. An estimated 10,000 of these mothers and 200,000 of their infant die as a result of malaria infection during pregnancy. Severe malarial anemia contributes to more than half of these deaths. Pregnant women and children under 5 have a considerably higher risk of contracting, suffering from and dying from malaria.

Most local women are unaware of the signs of malaria and anemia, and with local hospitals hours away, many choose to stay home untreated putting their lives and their fetus’ lives at risk. The CB-MAP will train community healthcare workers to detect the signs of malaria and anemia in pregnant women early on and provide treatment. A mother's survival can mean the difference of life or death for her infant and children as well as stability and productivity within her community. WWHI is strengthening these communities by improving the lives of families and future generations. The strength of a country’s women determines the strength of a nation.

WWHI has also partnered with the Local Women's Group, a locally operated 250-member women's organization that advocates initiatives that improve the economic standing and health of women in their community.

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