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Fewer cases of malaria during pregnancy

Cases of gestational malaria have decreased in Brazil over the last decade, but they still represent a serious risk to pregnant women in regions where the disease is endemic, according to a survey carried out by researchers from the University of São Paulo (USP) and technicians from Brazil’s Ministry of Health. Led by Claudio Marinho, a biologist from the Institute of Biomedical Sciences (ICB) at USP, the team analyzed data from the Malaria Epidemiological Surveillance System on 61,833 women with the disease. There was a 50.1% reduction in the total number of cases between January 2004 and December 2018, with Plasmodium vivax responsible for most cases (The Lancet Regional Health, May 27). The drop, however, does not make the issue any less of a concern. The disease remains a serious public health problem across the Amazon region, especially in the municipalities of São Gabriel da Cachoeira, Japurá, Atalaia do Norte, and Barcelos in the state of Amazonas. Women aged 15 to 24 and with a lower level of education were the most affected, accounting for 60.5% of cases. “It is important for malaria control programs to use this data to identify areas that may require greater surveillance or interventions and to create specific strategies to protect pregnant women and their babies from the consequences of the disease,” says Marinho.