COMPARATIVE STUDY AND PREVALENCE OF PLASMODIUM FALCIPARUM AMONG CHILDREN AND PREGNANT WOMEN ATTENDING GENERAL HOSPITAL, LAPAI, NIGERIA
Malaria is a life threatening disease caused by Plasmodium sp that is transmitted to people through the bite of infected mosquitoes. The Plasmodium falciparum specie have been confirmed to affects the lives of almost 40% of the world’s population with pregnant women and children under-five years of age being the most affected. Malaria infection during pregnancy is an important public health problem with substantial risks to both the mother and foetus. This study was undertaken to determine malarial infection among children and pregnant women attending General Hospital Lapai, Niger state, Nigeria with the intent to compare two methods of Rapid diagnostic test (RDTs) and microscopy in the diagnosis of malaria. A cross-sectional and Hospital-based surveillance study was conducted on 150 patients by collecting blood samples from children and pregnant women attending General Hospital Lapai, Niger state. Blood samples were collected and examined for the presence of Plasmodium sp by rapid diagnostic test (RDT), and mp microscopy. A total of 75 pregnant women and 75 children were sampled for malaria parasites infection. Out of the 75 samples collected from children under the age of 5 years, a total of 58 (77.3%) participants were found positive using Microscopy and 26 (34.7%) positive using RDTs technique. The findings demonstrated that Mp microscopy for detection of malaria P. falciparum was highly sensitive (80.7%) as compared to RDT (44.7%). And out of the 75 samples collected from pregnant women, a total of 63 (84.0%) participants were found positive using Microscopy and 41 (54.7%) positive using RDTs technique. The results obtained suggested that microscopy remains the gold standard method for diagnosis of malarial infection, although the HRP-2 pf RDTs can be used where microscopy is not available and in cases where urgent malaria diagnosis is needed. The sensitivity and specificity of the RDT kit used (Care startTM malaria Pf (HRP2) Ag RDT) were 98% and 97.5% respectively. This study recorded high prevalence of malaria parasitaemia among pregnant women and children (63 (84.0%) Microscopy and 41 (54.7%) RDTs technique and 58 (77.3%) Microscopy and 26 (34.7%) RDTs technique respectively), attending General Hospital Lapai, Niger State. Regular environmental sanitation to dislodge mosquitoes from their breeding places will go a long way to reduce prevalence of malaria, and early antenatal booking for effective monitoring and prompt treatment of malaria in pregnancy will contribute significantly in reducing maternal morbidity and mortality, and its perinatal mortality. Routine intermittent preventive treatment of malaria is recommended for pregnant women in this area.