In Chad, Malaria is the first cause of mortality for children under 5 years old
Malaria represents a high risk for pregnant women, which can result in stillbirths and early deliveries. Since 2010, the city of Am-Timan, in the East of Chad, has seen an increase in Malaria cases, even after the rainy season. The growth in population has led to substandard living conditions, and stagnant waters have caused mosquitoes to proliferate. To prevent Malaria infection to children and mothers, mosquito nets have been distributed to women delivering their babies in health centers. This initiative “killed two birds with one stone”, by giving women an additional incentive to give birth in health centers rather than at home.
Two nights ago, Fouda Ali, 25, gave birth to her fourth child. “The delivery went very well. I feel great and my baby as well. After one day in the hospital, yesterday night we came back home.” Fouda does not have a name for her baby girl yet. It’s the tradition to wait until the 7th day after the birth to name a baby. “For the moment, all that matters is that she is healthy.”
Undeniably, Fouda made sure her baby was healthy during her pregnancy “I went to the hospital for every prenatal consultation. I did the same thing with my previous children.” The risk of Malaria is very high in Am-Timan and Fouda is very aware. “I have always used mosquito nets, it is the best way to avoid Malaria. I had Malaria a few times before but as soon as I feel the symptoms, I go to the hospital. Thus, it never got dangerous for my health.”
Cases of congenital Malaria have been observed in Chad, resulting in early deliveries and stillbirths. To minimize the risk for mothers, health centers administer intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy (IPTp) of Malaria, regardless of whether the recipient is infected or not. “During the prenatal consultations, I received preventive treatments so that I could not contract Malaria and infect my baby, it reassured me.”
Fouda knows that she has to be vigilant to ensure her baby stays healthy. “Since we got back from the hospital, I keep my baby under the mosquito net. With all my children, I always made sure that after dark, they stay as much as possible under the mosquito net.”
In the past years, the Salamat Region and its population have faced many health issues. “In Am-Timan, we have a lot of difficulties when it comes to health, especially with epidemics like Hepatitis E and cholera.” Environmental hygiene has been proven to be a factor for epidemics as well as for Malaria. “I have been told that mosquitos are developing a lot more if you have stagnant water close to your house. I try to make sure as much as possible not to keep any stagnant water outside my house.”
To prevent Malaria infection, health centers have been distributing mosquito nets to women after their delivery. “I received this mosquito net in the past when I had my third child and I received a new one yesterday when I left the hospital.” Fouda is thankful for this support. “I live in this room with my husband and children. I never went to school, I sell donuts at the market to earn a little bit of money. My husband is a truck driver, we do not have a lot of means. Any support we can get is welcome to keep our family healthy.”
In Chad, 27% of child mortality is caused by Malaria, making it the main cause of mortality for children under the age of 5. Thanks to The Global Fund, UNDP and UNICEF have been supporting the Government of Chad’s National Malaria Programs, helping health districts and centers for the treatment and prevention of Malaria. Treating 258,737 presumed and confirmed cases of Malaria from January to September 2017 and enabling the administration of intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy (IPTp) of Malaria to 116,117 women during prenatal consultations as well as distributing mosquito nets through routine and massive distribution campaign before the rainy seasons (July-September 2017).