An educative film- ‘malaria in pregnancy’ was inaugurated in Dar es Salaam yesterday by the Minister for Health and Social Welfare, Dr Hadji Mponda.
The glamorous film dubbed –CHUMO has been produced in Tanzania by Media for Development International (MFDI) through funding from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Centre for Communication Programs under the COMMIT project with support from US President’s Malaria Initiative and USAID.
CHUMO highlights malaria prevention during pregnancy through a dramatic story.
Inaugurating the film the minister pointed out that said in the country’s malaria endemic areas, pregnant women are the main adult risk group for malaria noting that an estimated 50 million pregnant women are exposed to malaria every year, 60 percent of them being in Africa.
More than 10,000 infants die in Sub Sahara Africa alone as a result of malaria infection during pregnancy.
“In Tanzania, all of the estimated 1.7 million pregnant women a year are susceptible to malaria. Malaria also accounts for up to 20 percent of deaths among pregnant women in the country,” he said.
He noted that although malaria still remains a major public concern for all Tanzanians, especially for pregnant women and children under age 5, as a country, the country has made tremendous efforts towards combating malaria by implementing proven cost-effective interventions at national scale such as Insecticide Treated Nets, Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS), Intermittent Preventive Treatment in Pregnancy among others.
He revealed that results from 2010 Tanzania Demographic and Health survey (DHS) shows that, almost two thirds (64 percent) of Tanzanians have at least one Insecticide Treated Mosquito Net and they are sleeping under the net every night.
“With the upcoming completion of the mass distribution of Long Lasting Insecticide Treated Nets, that number is just going to go higher. In the past year and a half, the government has distributed more than 18 million of long lasting insecticide treated nets. This is a massive feast that we should all be proud of,” h said.
Dr Hadji said despite achievements in the malaria fight, challenges abound.
“Results from 2010 Tanzania Demographic and Health survey shows that it is only 57 percent of pregnant women are sleeping under the net,” he pointed out.
Malaria is very fatal during pregnancy and could lead to disastrous consequences to both the mother and unborn baby. Malaria in pregnancy can also lead to severe anemia that can put the women at risk of death. Anemia makes a pregnant woman less able to withstand even moderate blood loss at delivery. This puts the woman at a much greater risk of dying during childbirth.
He said even though the uptake of Sulphurdoxine Pyrimethamine (SP) has great effect in prevention of malaria during pregnancy, studies show that the failure of most pregnant women to attend antenatal early to access and complete the recommended 2 doses of SP remains a key challenge due to community perception, and superstition.
“It is only 26 percent of pregnant women that take the second dose of SP. To help improve the Malaria in Pregnancy statistics in Tanzania and save the lives of many pregnant women and their unborn babies, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare through the National Malaria Control Program is working with partners to create demand for services, train health providers and ensure that the commodities (vouchers and nets) and medicines like SP are available in the health facilities across Tanzania,” he said.
CHUMO is among the initiatives of the ministry to sensitize pregnant women throughout the country, to go to the clinic as soon as they discover they are pregnant, and ensure they get the 2 doses of SP.
“CHUMO is a film that is different from many of the health film you have seen that are loaded with health messages. CHUMO is different because it leverages the power of entertainment to educate the public on Malaria infection during pregnancy that continues to be a major public health problem in Tanzania,” the minister elaborated
He reiterated that the film encourages young people to stand up for themselves and fight for what they want in their lives and at the same time communicates messages about malaria in pregnancy through a dramatic story of star-crossed lovers, Amina, Juma and Yustus.