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Health workers' use of malaria rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) to guide clinical decision making in rural dispensaries, Tanzania.

Masanja, M. I., McMorrow, M., Kahigwa, E., Kachur, S. P. and McElroy, P. D. (2010) Health workers' use of malaria rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) to guide clinical decision making in rural dispensaries, Tanzania. The American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene, 83 (6). pp. 1238-1241. ISSN 1476-1645

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Rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) were developed as an alternative to microscopy for malaria diagnosis. The RDTs detect malaria parasite antigen(s) in whole blood with high sensitivity and specificity. We assessed health worker malaria treatment practices after the introduction of RDTs in peripheral health facilities without microscopy. From December 2007 to October 2008, we introduced histidine-rich protein II (HRP-2)-based ParaHIT RDTs for routine use in 12 health facilities in Rufiji District, Tanzania. Health workers received training on how to perform RDTs for patients 5 years of age or older with fever or suspected malaria. Children < 5 years of age were to be treated empirically per national guidelines. Among the 30,195 patients seen at these 12 health facilities, 10,737 (35.6%) were tested with an RDT for malaria. 88.3% (9,405/10,648) of tested patients reported fever or history of fever and 2.7% (289/10,677) of all tested individuals were children < 5 years of age. The RDT results were recorded for 10,650 patients (99.2%). Among the 5,488 (51.5%) RDT-positive patients, 5,256 (98.6%) were treated with an appropriate first-line antimalarial per national guidelines (artemether-lumefantrine or quinine). Among the 5,162 RDT-negative patients, only 205 (4.0%) were treated with an antimalarial. Other reported treatments included antibiotics and antipyretics. Implementation of RDTs in rural health facilities resulted in high adherence to national treatment guidelines. Patients testing negative by RDT were rarely treated with antimalarials. Unapproved antimalarials were seldom used. Health workers continued to follow guidelines for the empiric treatment of febrile children.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Rapid diagnostic tests, Health workers, Human resources, malaria diagnosis, health facilities, Tanzania
Subjects: Malaria > Diagnosis & treatment
Divisions: Ifakara Health Institute > Biomedical
Depositing User: Mr Joseph Madata
Date Deposited: 31 Jul 2012 10:35
Last Modified: 16 Aug 2012 15:57

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