Bringing science and development together through news and analysis

Malaria drug could cut women’s risk of other infections
  • Malaria drug could cut women’s risk of other infections

Copyright: Panos

Speed read

  • Sub-Saharan Africa suffers from 880,000 stillbirths each year, partly due to STIs

  • New study shows that taking an antimalarial during pregnancy could prevent STIs

  • An expert says the new findings confirm previous knowledge

Shares
[ABUJA, NIGERIA] A drug used to combat malaria in pregnant women could also treat sexually transmitted infections (STIs), a study shows.
 
Results of the study by researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine, a medicine recommended during antenatal care visit for intermittent preventive treatment (IPTp) of malaria in pregnant women in malaria-endemic areas could cut the risk of getting STIs such as gonorrhoea, chlamydia, trichomoniasis, and bacterial vaginosis.

“We hope this evidence will support efforts by programme managers and policymakers to scale up the coverage of IPTp-SP.”

Matthew Chico, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

 

According to LSHTM researchers, about 880,000 stillbirths and 1.2 million newborn deaths occur each year in Sub-Saharan Africa. Experts say malaria and STIs increase risk of miscarriage.
 
The study, published in Clinical Infectious Diseases last month (2 March), was conducted between November 2013 and April 2014 in Nchelenge District of Zambia.
 
According to the study,  women who had had two or more doses of IPTp-SP compared to zero to one dose had their risk of getting malaria reduced by 76 per cent while their risk of getting gonorrhoea or chlamydia was reduced by 94 per cent.  
 
The researchers also found that women who received two or more IPTp-SP doses compared to zero to one dose had their risk of experiencing stillbirth, low birthweight, preterm delivery or intrauterine growth retardation cut by 45 per cent.
     Infographic-Drug used to combat malaria in pregnancy also protects against STIs  

The research lead author, Matthew Chico, associate professor at the UK-based London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, says they sought primarily to estimate the prevalence of co-infection of malaria infection and curable STIs or reproductive tract infections among 1,086 pregnant women who attend antenatal care in rural Zambia.
 
Chico adds that the study seeks to fill the data gap, as none hitherto existed on the prevalence of co-infection.
 
“We hope this evidence will support efforts by programme managers and policymakers to scale up the coverage of IPTp-SP,” Chico told SciDev.Net.
 
Oladoyin Odubanjo, executive secretary, Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS) and chair of the Lagos Chapter of Association of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria, says, “The study only serves to give us additional evidence to what was already thought to be so.”
Odubanjo adds: “Giving SP in pregnancy is known to be beneficial in preventing [or] treating malaria in pregnancy. However, it was thought to also prevent complications from infections and this study adds to the body of proof for that.”
 
At present, only 25 per cent of pregnant women receive two or more doses of IPTp-SP, leaving most pregnant women without protection.
  
This piece was produced by SciDev.Net’s Sub-Saharan Africa English desk.
 

References

Matthew Chico and others Sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine exhibits dose-response protection against adverse birth outcomes related to sexually transmitted and reproductive tract infections (Clinical Infectious Diseases, 2 March 2017)
Republish
We encourage you to republish this article online and in print, it’s free under our creative commons attribution license, but please follow some simple guidelines:
  1. You have to credit our authors.
  2. You have to credit SciDev.Net — where possible include our logo with a link back to the original article.
  3. You can simply run the first few lines of the article and then add: “Read the full article on SciDev.Net” containing a link back to the original article.
  4. If you want to also take images published in this story you will need to confirm with the original source if you're licensed to use them.
  5. The easiest way to get the article on your site is to embed the code below.
For more information view our media page and republishing guidelines.