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The effectiveness and perception of the use of sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine in intermittent preventive treatment of malaria in pregnancy programme in Offinso district of ashanti region, Ghana

Emmanuel Osei Tutu13*, Bernard Lawson1 and Edmund Browne2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Theoretical and Applied Biology, Faculty of Biosciences, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana

2 Department of Community Health, School of Medical Sciences, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana

3 Faculty of Public Health and Allied Sciences, Catholic University College of Ghana, Sunyani, Ghana

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Malaria Journal 2011, 10:385  doi:10.1186/1475-2875-10-385

Published: 29 December 2011



Malaria in pregnant women has been shown to be associated with low birth weight, stillbirth and mortality in newborns. The WHO has adopted the use of sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) to control malaria, a disease which worsens the plight of pregnant women leading to low birth weight, stillbirths and increased neonatal mortality. The present study assessed the effectiveness of SP and perception of its use in pregnant women in Offinso district (Ashanti Region), Ghana.


Pregnant women, gestational age 32 weeks prior to term, were studied from November 2006 to October 2007. Their haemoglobin levels (Hb), parasitaemia and other quantitative determinants were assessed. In-depth interviews (IDIs) and focus group discussions (FGDs) were used to assess the perception of SP usage and its effectiveness.


Of the 306 study participants, 92 (30%) took one dose, 100 (33%) two doses and 114 (37%) three doses of SP, respectively. There was significant association between gravidity and SP dosage taken (Pearson χ2 = 18.9, p < 0.001). Although adverse effects were produced in 113 (i.e. 37%) of the pregnant women, no significant difference was observed with regard to the dosage of SP taken (Pearson's χ2 = 2.3, p ≥ 0.32). Peripheral parasitaemia was present in 47 (15%) of the subjects. There was a poor negative relationship of doses of SP with parasitaemia (r = -0.07, p ≥ 0.24). Mean Hb was 11.3 ± 1.6 g/dl, with 118 (39%) of the subjects anaemic (Hb < 11.0 g/dl), whilst 187 (61%) were normal (Hb ≥11.0 g/dl). Significant positive correlation of SP use with Hb level (r = 0.15, p < 0.008) was observed. SP use reduced malaria and anaemia prevalence, contributed to reduced maternal morbidity with mild side effects being reported.


This study points to the effectiveness of IPTp using SP as an evidence-based measure for control of malaria and malaria-related anaemia in pregnancy. Therefore, the Ghana Health Service should improve current programme strategies to increase the proportion of pregnant women who take three doses of SP, paying attention to improved face-to-face health education, focussed antenatal care and better social mobilization.