The Malagasy Ministry of Health aimed to achieve 80% coverage of intermittent preventive treatment of malaria among pregnant women (IPTp) in targeted districts by 2015. However, IPTp coverage rates of have remained fairly static over the past few years.
During a cross-sectional household survey, mothers of children under the age of 2 years were asked about their most recent pregnancy. The primary outcome of interest was a mother receiving two or more doses of sulfadoxine–pyrimethamine (SP) (IPTp2) during their last pregnancy, at least one of which was obtained from a health provider. Multilevel analysis was used to account for community-level factors. Correlates included exposure to communication messages, the number of antenatal care (ANC) visits made by the woman, her household wealth, and other sociodemographic characteristics.
Over one-tenth (11.7%) of women received two or more doses of SP, at least one of which was obtained during an ANC visit. Two-thirds (68.3%) of women who consulted a health provider but did not take IPTp attributed this to not being offered the medication by their health provider. The odds of a woman receiving IPTp2 varied with her knowledge, attitudes, and perceived social norms related to IPTp and ANC and exposure to malaria messages. General malaria ideation, specifically the perceived severity of and perceived susceptibility to malaria, however, was not associated with increased odds of receiving IPTp2. A large variation in the odds of receiving IPTp2 was due to community-level factors that the study did not examine.
Health communication programmes should aim to improve IPTp/ANC-specific ideation, particularly the norms of seeking regular care during pregnancy and taking any prescribed medication. While ANC attendance is necessary, it was not sufficient to meet IPTp2 coverage. Women surveyed in Madagascar rely on health providers to prescribe SP according to national policy. At the same time, stock-outs prevent health providers from prescribing SP. The large observed community-level variation in IPTp2 coverage is likely due to supply-side factors, such as SP availability and health-provider ideation and practices.