Hidden burden of malaria in Indian women

Malar J. 2009 Dec 8;8:281. doi: 10.1186/1475-2875-8-281.


Malaria is endemic in India with an estimated 70-100 million cases each year (1.6-1.8 million reported by NVBDCP); of this 50-55% are Plasmodium vivax and 45-50% Plasmodium falciparum. A recent study on malaria in pregnancy reported from undivided Madhya Pradesh state (includes Chhattisgarh state), that an estimated over 220,000 pregnant women contract malaria infection each year. Malaria in pregnancy caused- abortions 34.5%; stillbirths 9%; and maternal deaths 0.45%. Bulk of this tragic outcome can be averted by following the Roll Back Malaria/WHO recommendations of the use of malaria prevention i.e. indoor residual spraying (IRS)/insecticide-treated bed nets (ITN) preferably long-lasting treated bed nets (LLIN); intermittent preventive therapy (IPT); early diagnosis, prompt and complete treatment using microscopic/malaria rapid diagnostics test (RDT) and case management. High incidence in pregnancy has arisen because of malaria surveillance lacking coverage, lack of age and sex wise data, staff shortages, and intermittent preventive treatment (IPT) applicable in high transmission states/pockets is not included in the national drug policy- an essential component of fighting malaria in pregnancy in African settings. Inadequate surveillance and gross under-reporting has been highlighted time and again for over three decades. As a result the huge problem of malaria in pregnancy reported occasionally by researchers has remained hidden. Malaria in pregnancy may quicken severity in patients with drug resistant parasites, anaemia, endemic poverty, and malnutrition. There is, therefore, urgent need to streamline malaria control strategies to make a difference in tackling this grim scenario in human health.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Spontaneous / parasitology
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Antimalarials / therapeutic use
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cost of Illness
  • Female
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Malaria / epidemiology*
  • Malaria / parasitology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mosquito Control / methods
  • Plasmodium / isolation & purification*
  • Population Surveillance
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Parasitic / epidemiology*
  • Pregnancy Complications, Parasitic / parasitology
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Antimalarials