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    Blog: Talking to Parliament about the women and girls agenda in the fight against malaria

    Christian Rassi

    Christian Rassi talks about his recent presentation in Parliament on our study exploring the barriers to uptake of intermittent preventive treatment of malaria in pregnancy (IPTp) in Uganda.

    Malaria in pregnancy is a good example of how health programmes need to take gender into account. Pregnancy is one of the main risk factors for malaria and malaria infection during pregnancy is typically prevented and controlled through routine antenatal care, which is obviously a gender-specific care delivery mechanism.

    On 14 March, I had the opportunity to present the study at a meeting in the UK Parliament to mark World Women’s Day and Women’s History Month. The meeting was hosted jointly by the All-party Parliamentary Groups on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) and on Population, Development and Reproductive Health. Mine was one of three presentations which looked at how the development community addresses the women and girls agenda in the battle against malaria and NTDs.

    Presenting to parliamentarians in a high-income country is a very different experience compared with the meetings and discussions we normally have with policymakers in the countries where we conduct our research. The focus was much less on the specific details of the intervention and its potential scale-up, and more about demonstrating the value of small-scale implementation research and illustrating the importance of addressing gender-specific barriers to service delivery.

    As well as being an excellent opportunity to raise the profile of Malaria Consortium and COMDIS-HSD, the presentation also helped promote awareness of operational research and gender issues among stakeholders in high-income countries. Several representatives from DFID were in the audience when I presented and the malaria focal person made a very positive comment about the study.

    On a personal level, having the opportunity to address parliamentarians in such a grand and historical place as Westminster Palace was of course a very exciting experience. I also couldn’t resist having my photo taken with Big Ben in the background…

    Christian Rassi is COMDIS-HSD Project Co-ordinator with Malaria Consortium