Intermittent screening and treatment with dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine for the prevention of malaria in pregnancy: implementation feasibility in a routine healthcare system setting in western Kenya

25 Nov 2020
Jenny Hill Peter Ouma Seth Oluoch Jane Bruce Simon Kariuki Meghna Desai Jayne Webster

Background: Intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy (IPTp) with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) is recommended for preventing malaria in pregnancy in areas of moderate-to-high transmission in sub-Saharan Africa. However, due to increasing parasite resistance to SP, research on alternative strategies is a priority. The study assessed the implementation feasibility of intermittent screening and treatment (ISTp) in the second and third trimester at antenatal care (ANC) with malaria rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) and treatment of positive cases with dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DP) compared to IPTp-SP in western Kenya.

Methods: A 10-month implementation study was conducted in 12 government health facilities in four sub-counties. Six health facilities were assigned to either ISTp-DP or IPTp-SP. Evaluation comprised of facility audits, ANC observations, and exit interviews. Intermediate and cumulative effectiveness analyses were performed on all processes involved in delivery of ISTp-DP including RDT proficiency and IPTp-SP ± directly observed therapy (DOT, standard of care). Logistic regression was used to identify predictors of receiving each intervention.

Results: A total of 388 and 389 women were recruited in the ISTp-DP and IPTp-SP arms, respectively. For ISTp-DP, 90% (289/320) of eligible women received an RDT. Of 11% (32/289) who tested positive, 71% received the correct dose of DP and 31% the first dose by DOT, and only 6% were counselled on subsequent doses. Women making a sick visit and being tested in a facility with a resident microscopist were more likely to receive ISTp-DP (AOR 1.78, 95% CI 1.31, 2.41; and AOR 3.75, 95% CI 1.31, 2.40, respectively). For IPTp-SP, only 57% received a dose of SP by DOT. Payment for a laboratory test was independently associated with receipt of SP by DOT (AOR 6.43, 95% CI 2.07, 19.98).

Conclusions: The findings indicate that the systems effectiveness of ANC clinics to deliver ISTp-DP under routine conditions was poor in comparison to IPTp-SP. Several challenges to integration of ISTp with ANC were identified that may need to be considered by countries that have introduced screening at first ANC visit and, potentially, for future adoption of ISTp with more sensitive RDTs. Understanding the effectiveness of ISTp-DP will require additional research on pregnant women's adherence to ACT.