Most monitoring and evaluation tools for measuring malaria burden, intervention coverage, and impact of interventions use periodic nationally representative cross-sectional household surveys. These provide advantages in terms of selecting a large, unbiased, population-based sample; however, they are infrequently conducted, are resource-intensive, and do not provide longitudinal data with sufficient granularity. Given the heterogeneity of malaria transmission within most endemic countries, systems with the capacity to provide more granular and frequent data would be more actionable by national malaria control programs and local implementing partners. There is increasing interest in using routine health facility data, usually from outpatient department visits, for monitoring malaria burden. Data from pregnant women attending antenatal care (ANC) could minimize bias related to fever care-seeking among outpatient department visits and provide more granular parasite prevalence data. Most pregnant women attend ANC at least once and are thus highly representative of the overall pregnant population. A growing body of evidence suggests that malaria parasitemia in pregnant women is correlated with parasitemia in children aged < 5 years in moderate to high transmission areas, allowing for monitoring parasitemia in real time. Additional data are needed to assess whether pregnant women are sufficiently representative of the overall population to yield valid malaria prevalence and intervention coverage estimates. Although use of routinely collected ANC data faces many of the same challenges experienced by other routinely collected health facility data, the opportunity to improve parasite prevalence monitoring and the associated health benefits to mothers and infants of early detection of parasitemia make these efforts valuable.
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Disclaimer: The findings and conclusions in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Authors’ addresses: Julie R. Gutman, Julie Thwing, and Peter McElroy, Malaria Branch, Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, E-mails: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, and firstname.lastname@example.org. Julia Mwesigwa, PATH, Kampala, Uganda, E-mail: email@example.com. Molly Robertson, PATH, Seattle, WA, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.