Preventing Malaria in pregnant women and reduce IMR: UNICEF

New Delhi: India, which is struggling to
cope with high Infant Mortality Rates, can reduce the deaths
of children by three to four per cent by protecting women from
malaria during pregnancy.

Henri van den Homberg, Chief of Health of UNICEF, said
that malaria infection during pregnancy has the greatest
impact on the health of the baby and is one of the biggest
risk factors for their death.

"If a mother gets infected by malaria during the
second half of pregnancy, the baby has a high tendency to be
born with low birth weight which is one of the biggest factors
for deaths in the first weeks of life," Henri told reporters.

If the placenta of a pregnant woman gets infected by
malaria, the child has a high risk of being born with low
weight which can lead to deaths, he said.

He regretted that India does not have any national
data on pregnant women with malaria.

The UNICEF official also talked about many cost
effective treatments and prevention for malaria among pregnant
women particularly of the use of nets.

"Global research shows that use of bed nets can
reduce malarial parasite in the blood by 38 per cent. More
than a quarter of low birth weight can be prevented through
use of nets," he said.

Pregnant women are entitled to free mosquito nets in
the country but doubt whether this information has reached
them, he said.