Perspectives of Health Care Providers on the Provision of Intermittent Preventive Treatment in Pregnancy in Health Facilities in Malawi
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Author(s): Yoder PS, Nsabagasani X, Eckert E, Moran A, Ye Y
Nearly 20 years after the adoption by the government of Malawi of the provision of intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy (IPTp) for malaria, only 55% of pregnant women received at least two doses of sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) in 2010. Although several reasons for the low coverage have been suggested, few studies have examined the views of health care providers. This study examined the experiences of the nurses and midwives in providing antenatal care (ANC) services.
This study was conducted in health facilities in Malawi that provide routine ANC services. Providers of ANC in Malawi were selected from in eight health care facilities of Malawi. Selected providers were interviewed using a semi-structured interview guide designed to address a series of themes related to their working conditions and their delivery of IPTp.
Nurses displayed detailed knowledge of ANC services and the rationale behind them. Nurses understood that they should provide two doses of IPTp during a pregnancy, but they did not agree on the timing of the doses. Nurses gave SP as directly observed therapy (DOT) at the clinic. Nurses did not give SP pills to women to take home with them because they did not trust that women would take the pills. Women who resisted taking SP explained they do not take drugs if they had not eaten, or they feared side effects, or they were not sick. Reasons for not giving the first or second dose of SP included a delay in the first ANC visit, testing positive for HIV, and presenting with malaria. None of the nurses were able to show any specific written guidelines on when to give SP. The challenges faced by the nurses include being overworked and persuading women to take SP under observation.
The findings show that the nurses had gained the knowledge and technical skills to provide appropriate ANC services. With regard to IPTp, nurses need guidelines that would be available at the health facility about how and when to give SP. The adoption of the WHO guidelines and their diffusion to health care facilities could help increase the coverage of IPTp2 (at least two doses of sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine) in Malawi.
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