The Road to Malaria Elimination

by Stephen Poyer, Senior Malaria Research Advisor, PSI

Widely available, accurate and affordable rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) have revolutionized malaria case management. But all suspected malaria cases must be screened, 100 percent of the time, especially if we want to reach the World Health Organization’s (WHO) ambitious 2030 goal of reducing the global malaria incidence and mortality rate by 90 percent.

We haven’t yet reached full RDT coverage, an essential step to reaching the WHO’s goal. In countries with a high burden of malaria, the gap is starkest, especially where consumers seek testing and treatment in the private sector. Comprehensive policy, regulation, quality assurance and supply-side strengthening all create challenges when establishing RDT services in the private sector.

Until this year, there was little global guidance provided to governments that needed assistance engaging with private providers and their consumers on how they could best work to achieve universal testing goals and effectively manage cases of malaria.

Between 2013 and 2016, the WHO collaborated with PSI and a consortium of malaria experts to stimulate private sector markets in five African countries for quality-assured malaria RDTs, using funding from Unitaid. Informed by evidence they found, PSI, WHO and the partners from this project created a roadmap for optimizing private sector malaria rapid diagnostic testing, published in May 2019. The roadmap describes 40 steps that national malaria control programs and stakeholders can follow to support the use of quality-assured RDT services in the private sector.

Chapters cover the market functions critical to RDTs in the private sector like coordination, procurement, quality assurance, promotion and surveillance, and draw on case studies and tools from the earlier project.

Content from the roadmap will be incorporated into future comprehensive private sector malaria case management guidance developed by the WHO, informed by the outcomes of their recent private sector technical consultation.

This article appears in PSI’s Impact magazine, released in tandem with Women Deliver 2019, as part of an ongoing conversation about putting #PowerInHerHands.

Banner Image: A mother and child in Uganda await the results of their malaria Rapid Diagnostic Test (mRDT). © WHO/TDR/Watkins

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