Malaria chemoprophylaxis during pregnancy: a survey of current practice amongst general practitioners in Port Harcourt, Nigeria
Background: Malaria is a common health problem especially among the pregnant women in endemic countries such as Nigeria. Sulphadoxine/pyrimethamine (SP) has been recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for malaria chemoprophylaxis in pregnancy and has been incorporated into our national malaria control programme. General medical practitioners provide prenatal care for significant proportion of our women in pregnancy.
Aim: To examine the current knowledge and practice of malaria chemoprophylaxis during pregnancy among general medical practitioners in Port Harcourt, southern Nigeria.
Methods: It was a questionnaire based study of 90 general medical practitioners in Port Harcourt, southern Nigeria which sought for their socio-demographic characteristics and knowledge and practice of malaria chemoprophylaxis during pregnancy. The data were entered into a personal computer and analysed using SPSS for windows version 10.0 and presented as frequency tables and percentages.
Results: Of the 90 questionnaires, 59 duly completed forms were retrieved, giving a response rate of 65.60%. The age range of the respondents was 21-60 years with 31-40 years as the most common range. Only 33(55.93%) respondents knew the current malaria chemoprophylactic agent in pregnancy as recommended by WHO. Almost all (98.30%) respondents administered malaria chemoprophylaxis routinely to their antenatal women but only 44.06% administered correctly SP as recommended.
Conclusion: The knowledge and practice of the WHO recommended malaria chemoprophylaxis in pregnancy among general medical practitioners is below average. Training and re-training of these primary care physicians on the use of sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine will tremendously improve their knowledge and practice of this WHO recommended chemoprophylactic agent in pregnancy which will in turn reduce malaria - related perinatal and maternal complications.
Keywords: Malaria, Chemoprophylaxis, Pregnancy, WHO, General Practitioners