Background: Malaria in pregnancy is responsible for 8-14% of low birth weight and 20% of stillbirths in sub-Saharan Africa. To prevent these adverse consequences, the World Health Organization recommends intermittent preventive treatment of pregnant women (IPTp) with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine be administered at each ANC visit starting as early as possible in the second trimester. Global IPTp coverage in targeted countries remains unacceptably low. Community delivery of IPTp was explored as a means to improve coverage.
Methods: A cluster randomized, controlled trial was conducted in 12 health facilities in a 1:1 ratio to either an intervention group (IPTp delivered by CHWs) or a control group (standard practice, with IPTp delivered at HFs) in three districts of Burkina Faso to assess the effect of IPTp administration by community health workers (CHWs) on the coverage of IPTp and antenatal care (ANC). The districts and facilities were purposively selected taking into account malaria epidemiology, IPTp coverage, and the presence of active CHWs. Pre- and post-intervention surveys were carried out in March 2017 and July-August 2018, respectively. A difference in differences (DiD) analysis was conducted to assess the change in coverage of IPTp and ANC over time, accounting for clustering at the health facility level.
Results: Altogether 374 and 360 women were included in the baseline and endline surveys, respectively. At baseline, women received a median of 2.1 doses; by endline, women received a median of 1.8 doses in the control group and 2.8 doses in the intervention group (p-value < 0.0001). There was a non-statistically significant increase in the proportion of women attending four ANC visits in the intervention compared to control group (DiD = 12.6%, p-value = 0.16). By the endline, administration of IPTp was higher in the intervention than control, with a DiD of 17.6% for IPTp3 (95% confidence interval (CI) - 16.3, 51.5; p-value 0.31) and 20.0% for IPTp4 (95% CI - 7.2, 47.3; p-value = 0.15).
Conclusions: Community delivery of IPTp could potentially lead to a greater number of IPTp doses delivered, with no apparent decrease in ANC coverage.
Keywords: Intermittent preventive treatment; Malaria; Pregnancy; Sulfadoxine–pyrimethamine.