BACKGROUND: The World Health Organization recommends parasitological confirmation of all malaria cases. Tanzania is implementing a phased rollout of malaria rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) for routine use in all levels of care as one strategy to increase parasitological confirmation of malaria diagnosis. This study was carried out to evaluated artemisinin combination therapy (ACT) prescribing patterns in febrile patients with and without uncomplicated malaria in one pre-RDT implementation and one post-RDT implementation area.<br /><br />METHODS: A cross-sectional health facility surveys was conducted during high and low malaria transmission seasons in 2010 in both areas. Clinical information and a reference blood film on all patients presenting for an initial illness consultation were collected. Malaria was defined as a history of fever in the past 48 h and microscopically confirmed parasitaemia. Routine diagnostic testing was defined as RDT or microscopy ordered by the health worker and performed at the health facility as part of the health worker-patient consultation. Correct diagnostic testing was defined as febrile patient tested with RDT or microscopy. Over-testing was defined as a non-febrile patient tested with RDT or microscopy. Correct treatment was defined as patient with malaria prescribed ACT. Over-treatment was defined as patient without malaria prescribed ACT.<br /><br />RESULTS: A total of 1,247 febrile patients (627 from pre-implementation area and 620 from post-implementation area) were included in the analysis. In the post-RDT implementation area, 80.9% (95% CI, 68.2-89.3) of patients with malaria received recommended treatment with ACT compared to 70.3% (95% CI, 54.7-82.2) of patients in the pre-RDT implementation area. Correct treatment was significantly higher in the post-implementation area during high transmission season (85.9% (95% CI, 72.0-93.6) compared to 58.3% (95% CI, 39.4-75.1) in pre-implementation area (p = 0.01). Over-treatment with ACT of patients without malaria was less common in the post-RDT implementation area (20.9%; 95% CI, 14.7-28.8) compared to the pre-RDT implementation area (45.8%; 95% CI, 37.2-54.6) (p < 0.01) in high transmission. The odds of overtreatment was significantly lower in post- RDT area (adjusted Odds Ratio (OR: 95% CI) 0.57(0.36-0.89); and much higher with clinical diagnosis adjusted OR (95% CI) 2.24(1.37-3.67)<br /><br />CONCLUSION: Implementation of RDTs increased use of RDTs for parasitological confirmation and reduced over-treatment with ACT during high malaria transmission season in one area in Tanzania. Continued monitoring of the national RDT rollout will be needed to assess whether these changes in case management practices will be replicated in other areas and sustained over time. Additional measures (such as refresher trainings, closer supervisions, etc.) may be needed to improve ACT targeting during low transmission seasons.
Masanja, I. M., Selemani, M., Amuri, B., Kajungu, D., Khatib, R., Kachur, S. P., & Skarbinski, J. (2012). Increased use of malaria rapid diagnostic tests improves targeting of anti-malarial treatment in rural Tanzania: Implications for nationwide rollout of malaria rapid diagnostic tests. Malaria Journal, 11. https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2875-11-221