BACKGROUND:In 2006, a cluster of malaria deaths in the highly endemic Jalpaiguri district, West Bengal, India, led to assignment of additional resources. Malaria deaths decreased, but continued to occur. A study was conducted to identify the risk factors for residual malaria deaths.METHODS:Malaria death was defined as a death from fever with microscopically confirmed Plasmodium falciparum among residents of Jalpaiguri during 2007-2008. For each case, three age-, sex- and locality-matched controls were recruited among microscopically confirmed falciparum malaria patients cured during the same period. Clinical and treatment information was abstracted from records. Information about knowledge about malaria, presence of bed nets and DDT spraying was collected through interviews of the close relatives of study subjects. Odds ratio (OR) were calculated using multivariate methods.RESULTS:51 malaria deaths were matched with 153 controls, which did not differ by age (median: 35 versus 36 years) and proportion of males (63% versus 63%). On multiple logistic regression analysis, compared with survivors, malaria deaths were more likely to have been admitted with already existing complications [OR = 4.1, 95% confidence interval (CI)=1.6-10)], treated at a private facility (OR= 3.7, 95% CI= 1.2-12), received treatment after 48 hours of fever onset (OR= 14, 95% CI= 2.9- 64), received chloroquine (OR=13.3, 95% CI= 3.7- 47). Households of the deceased were also more likely to miss bed nets (OR= 6.3, 95% CI= 1.9-24) and DDT spraying (OR=9.2, 95% CI= 2.8-31). CONCLUSIONS:Elimination of malaria deaths will require education of providers for prompt referral before complications, engagement of the private sector, community awareness for early treatment as well as scaled-up use of bed nets use and DDT. Use of newer generation anti-malarials must to be generalized.
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