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Scale-up of Malaria rapid diagnostic tests and artemisinin-based combination therapy: Challenges and perspectives in Sub-Saharan Africa

Journal

PLOS Medicine

Category: Publications

Author: Guido J. H. Bastiaens, Teun Bousema, Toby Leslie

Published Date: 21 January 2014

Summary

  • Scaling up and sustaining access to malaria diagnosis and treatment in all public sector, for-profit, and informal health facilities across sub-Saharan Africa is central to current global strategies for malaria control and elimination.
  • The use of malaria rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) aims to eliminate reliance on signs and symptoms to diagnose and treat malaria but evidence shows health workers do not always test the right patients, nor provide treatment based on the results of the test.
  • Expanding access to malaria RDTs on the scale needed to achieve universal coverage requires retraining of public, private, and retail sector providers as well as sustained supplies and quality assurance.
  • Barriers to rational use of tests and drugs may be overcome through appropriate policy design for the local health service setting, which addresses health worker practice and patient perceptions.
  • Innovative methods have been used to increase access to the most effective antimalarial drugs in the last five years, but these efforts will be incomplete and unsustainable without similar efforts to incorporate RDTs into practice.

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