Anthony Chisada, Paul Matsvimbo, Munekayi Padingani, Tsitsi Siwela of Jhpiego,the USAID ZAPIM Project, Harare, Zimbabwe, and the Zimbabwe Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, Harare, Zimbabwe presented their experiences using death audits at the 2018 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. Their findings follow.
Nearly 50% of the Zimbabwean population is at risk for malaria. Total numbers of malaria related deaths have remained almost constant over the past 5 years. The National Malaria Control Program’s National Malaria Strategic Plan aims to reduce malaria-related deaths by 90% from 2015 levels (462 deaths) by 2020.
To improve severe malaria care and reduce mortality, NMCP documents and investigates all malaria deaths to ascertain the cause of the death and understand if and how it was avoidable. Malaria death audit meetings are held quarterly with health facility staff using a standard death investigation form and case management notes and form a learning platform to look at qualitative and quantitative data related to the deaths.
This review examines the findings from death audit meetings facilitated by the PMI-funded Zimbabwe Assistance Program in Malaria project in the Zimbabwean provinces of Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East and Matabeleland North. Six death audit meetings were conducted over an 18-month period, resulting in a total of 80 deaths audited. The audited deaths were purposely sampled for the potential learning value they offered and to diversify lessons learned.
According to audit reports, the main contributing factors to malaria deaths included: delayed presentation by patients, lack of comprehensive assessment and documentation of cases, inadequate care for patients with reduced level of consciousness and shock, inadequate follow-up of patient progress, lack of supportive investigations, and lack of access to renal replacement therapy/dialysis and blood transfusion.
Most deaths in age groups: under 5s(30%) and over 15(44%). Children are at risk of dying from malaria because of underdeveloped immunity, women taking children to gardens at night, delayed presentation since mothers are busy. Problem most pronounced in UMP. People over 15 years also at risk of dying: Suggestive of exposure as they indulge in outdoor activities without any protection from mosquito bites.
Death audits reapportion delays (3rd delay increased from 8% to 28%). First delay remains the major contributory factor- need for strengthening SBCC efforts. Malaria death audit meetings enhances the usefulness of the malaria death surveillance system and provides an opportunity for identification and discussion of health system challenges. Some challenges identified are rectifiable thus mitigating deaths. These enable holistic patient care: Identification and management of co-morbidities is critical. Findings contributed to justification of introduction malaria clinical mentorship for improving QoC.
The introduction of malaria death audit meetings has added an active, learning platform to complement the use of the malaria death investigation form and also served as a useful learning tool within Zimbabwe’s clinical mentorship program. Regular malaria death audit meetings are potentially useful in improving malaria care and reducing malaria related deaths.