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Feb 18, 2008
One in five Angolan children has malaria, according to new national survey

Calverton, Maryland - One out of five children in Angola has malaria, according to the 2006-07 Angola Malaria Indicator Survey (AMIS 2006-07). In addition, 14 percent of pregnant women tested positive for malaria. Earlier today, the Ministry of Health released the AMIS final report in a ceremony in Luanda. The nationally representative survey is based on interviews with over 2,500 households and close to 3,000 women ages 15 to 49.

The malaria prevalence for rural children is more than four times greater than for urban children (30 percent compared to 7 percent). The risk for malaria increases with the age of the child: only 12 percent of children under age one tested positive for malaria, but nearly one-quarter of children ages four to five did. The AMIS found that 14 percent of pregnant women have malaria, and the rate in rural areas is much higher (19 percent) than in urban areas (7 percent). The poorest women are most at risk: more than one-fourth of pregnant women from the poorest households have malaria.

The survey tested women ages 15 to 49 and children under five for anemia, and pregnant women ages 15 to 49 and children under five for malaria. Malaria often causes anemia, a deficiency of red blood cells that leads to weakness and fatigue. Women, pregnant women, and children are especially vulnerable to anemia.

Overall, 4 percent of these children had severe anemia. In contrast, the prevalence of severe anemia decreases with the child's age, with the youngest children being most anemic. Among pregnant women, 3 percent have severe anemia, three times greater than the rate of severe anemia for non-pregnant women, which is one percent.

Angola's first national survey on malaria also found that the use of malaria prevention methods is low overall. One-third of households in the country own a mosquito net and that 21 percent of children and a quarter of pregnant women slept under a net the night before they were interviewed for the survey. Unlike what is found in many neighboring countries, a large majority of mosquito nets owned and used in Angola are the highly-effective insecticide-treated nets (ITNs). This seems to indicate the relative success of the ITN distribution campaigns.

Only 2 percent of households received indoor residual insecticide spraying in the past year.

The survey also collected nationally representative data on household characteristics, fertility, and maternal health. Less than half of households (47 percent) have an improved source of drinking water, such as a protected well or spring. Almost three in ten households (29 percent) have no toilet facility. Over half of urban households have access to electricity (66 percent), but only 9 percent do in rural areas.

Fertility in Angola continues to be high. On average, women in Angola have almost 6 children. Rural women have higher fertility levels, at almost 8 children per woman, compared to around 4 children for urban women. As in other African countries, a woman's household wealth and level of education greatly influence the number of children she will have. Women from the poorest households and those with no education have around 8 children. Women from the wealthiest households and those with secondary or higher education have around 3 children.

Although the vast majority of Angolan women receive antenatal care from a skilled professional (80 percent), less than half receive professional assistance during delivery of their babies. About half of deliveries take place at home and half in a public health facility.

The Angola Malaria Indicator Survey 2006-07 was implemented by Consultoria de Serviços e Pesquisas-COSEP, Consultoria, Lda. and Consultoria de Gestão e Administração em Saude-Consaúde, Lda. All activities were coordinated closely with the Angola Ministry of Health and the National Malaria Control Program. Funding for the AMIS 2006-07 was provided by USAID/Angola, The President's Malaria Initiative (PMI) and the UNDP-managed Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM). Macro International, Inc. provided technical assistance through the Demographic and Health Surveys (MEASURE DHS) project of the United States Agency for International Development.