CLOSING THE TESTING GAP
The availability of accurate and affordable malaria rapid diagnostic tests (RDT) has revolutionized malaria case management and is a central feature of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global technical strategy for malaria 2016-2030. However, universal testing of all suspected malaria cases has not yet been achieved and the malaria testing gap is starkest in the highest-burden countries with high levels of private sector care-seeking. To help National Malaria Control Programs (NMCP) overcome this gap, PSI has published A Roadmap for Optimizing Private Sector Malaria Rapid Diagnostic Testing, in collaboration with WHO, Malaria Consortium, Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHSPH).
ENGAGING THE PRIVATE SECTOR IN MALARIA CASE MANAGEMENT
Establishing RDT services in the private sector is challenging. Comprehensive policy, regulation, quality assurance and supply-side sustainability are the main challenges to increasing RDT use. Previously, there was limited guidance on how governments can best engage private sector providers and their consumers to use RDTs for effective case management and achieve universal testing goals. At the same time, government engagement and stewardship are key to developing a sustainable market for quality-assured malaria RDTs, including high-quality private sector services where clients frequently seek care.
REAL-WORLD EXPERIENCE AND EVIDENCE
The Roadmap distils experience and learning from a 2013-2016 Unitaid-funded project to stimulate private sector markets for quality-assured mRDTs in five African countries. The project was led by PSI, in partnership with Malaria Consortium, FIND, JHSPH and WHO. Informed by lessons and evidence from the project, the Roadmap is written for NMCPs and stakeholders working towards the achievement of universal access to malaria diagnostic testing, spanning both public and private health sectors. Through 40 action steps, the roadmap focuses on needs that are specific to the private sector and is designed as a companion guide to existing WHO guidance on malaria diagnostic testing. Links to practical tools and country examples illustrate discussions of country and market coordination, the policy and regulatory environment, planning for scale and sustainability, procurement, quality assurance, promotions and monitoring and surveillance.
NMCP ENGAGEMENT AND WHO SUPPORT
Having shared the Roadmap with NCMP leaders from high-burden malaria countries during the recent WHO technical consultation on malaria case management in the private sector in high-burden countries, PSI is now making this guidance available for the whole malaria community. Working together, NMCPs, implementing partners and funding partners can strengthen the provision of high-quality RDT services in the private sector and close the gap on universal access to malaria testing.