Uganda: Study finds impressive improvement in malaria testing rates at health facilities in Uganda

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Malaria Consortium researchers were part of a team assessing the capacity of Ugandan health facilities to provide quality malaria testing, care and treatment and found high rates of malaria testing among people suspected of have malaria. This is a significant improvement over previous years and achieves the target set by the National Malaria Reduction Strategic Plan to reduce morbidity and mortality. The results of the study have been published in Malaria Journal.

Since 2010, the World Health Organization has recommended that all patients with suspected malaria have their diagnosis confirmed by microscopy or a rapid diagnostic test (RDT) before treatment. The increasing use of malaria diagnostics such as RDTs can positively influence treatment choices, lead to better treatment outcomes and improve the quality of malaria surveillance and response.

Data collected in March and April 2017 from a cross-sectional survey of 1,085 public and private health facilities in 52 districts supported by the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) also assessed the availability of treatment guidelines. management of malaria, formative supervision and training of health workers in the use of rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) for malaria.

The results showed that 86% of facilities tested more than 75% of patients suspected of having malaria, up from 59% in 2014. This is in line with the goal of testing at least 75% of people suspected of having malaria. to have malaria, established by the National Strategic Plan for Malaria Reduction 2014-2020.

“We have found the improvement in malaria testing rates to be impressive. Supportive supervision, such as that provided by the Malaria Action Program for Districts (MAPD) ​​funded by the United States Government (USG ) and having at least one health worker trained in malaria diagnosis using RDTs were statistically significant factors in screening at least 75% of patients suspected of having malaria. of our study therefore underscore the need for malaria control programs to provide regular supervision of health facilities and to train health workers in the use of RDTs,” said Dr Sam Siduda Gudoi, Director of the MAPD program, Malaria Consortium Uganda.

The researchers also found an 88% testing rate among private, for-profit facilities – slightly higher than that seen in public facilities (84%). Similarly, the Uganda Malaria Indicator Survey 2018/19 (population-based survey) indicated that children under five who had a fever in the two weeks prior to the survey and whose blood had been taken from the finger or the heel for the test could reach 70% in certain quarters.

The study further showed that most health facilities indicated that artemisinin-based combination therapy for malaria was available at the time of the survey. RDTs were available in almost all facilities (92%).

The researchers say that the wide availability of antimalarial products can be attributed to increased commitments, investments and funding for malaria control efforts by major international funding agencies. The long-term availability of these products is, however, essential for effective malaria control and to maintain and increase this level of detection rates.

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