We promote the use of quality-assured malaria rapid diagnostic tests (mRDT) to confirm suspected cases of malaria before treatment with Artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs), thereby preventing the development of dangerous drug resistance and ensuring non-malaria cases of fever are appropriately managed.
The World Health Organization recommends that every suspected malaria case be confirmed by parasitological testing using microscopy or RDTs, and that uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria be treated with Artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT).
The availability of high-quality mRDTs in the public sector has significantly improved and expanded diagnostic testing. In the private sector, where a majority of the population in malaria-endemic countries seeks care and treatment for symptoms of fever, RDTs are not systematically offered. As a result, patients showing fever symptoms are often presumptively treated with ACT, leading to mistreatment of other potentially life-threatening illnesses and to the overuse of the antimalarial drug.
Our programs seek to increase the availability and use of quality-assured mRDTs, with an emphasis on the private sector. This is done through addressing the three major constraints to a healthy market (or health system) for mRDTs: 1) limited commodity and provider quality assurance systems; 2) a non-conducive policy environment; and 3) insufficient supply and demand.
Making a Difference
An increase in the availability of high-quality, inexpensive mRDTs has led to improvements in diagnostic testing for malaria in the public sector. Unfortunately, similar gains have not been made in the private sector where a large proportion of the population in some malaria endemic countries have access care and treatment.
Funded by UNITAID, the Private Sector mRDT Project aimed to increase uptake of mRDTs in private sector markets in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Madagascar and Nigeria. PSI and project partners Malaria Consortium, FIND, the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the World Health Organization in collaboration with national ministries of health, worked to stimulate the creation of a private sector market for malaria mRDTs by:
- Increasing both access to and demand for quality-assured mRDTs.
- Improving private providers’ ability to diagnosis and treat malaria.
- Developing and implementing a roadmap for public-private engagement that will guide policy and regulation.