Zainab Mohammed, Nosa Orobaton, and Mohammed A. Ibrahim from the Targeted States High Impact Project (TSHIP), USAID Nigeria and the JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc. are sharing their experiences in Sokoto State, Nigeria concerning the importance of primary care health workers practicing appropriate malaria diagnostics prior to prescribing malaria medicines.
Despite the national efforts to reduce indiscriminate use of antimalarial and to secure improvements in malaria diagnosis, presumptive treatment of malaria is still high in Sokoto State, Nigeria. Just 3% of children under five years with fever had a blood test for malaria (NDHS 2013). Therefore Zainab and colleagues set out to answer the question, “Does increased availability of diagnostic kits improve quality of malaria case management?” Their work was based on the following objectives
- To determine the effect of malaria Rapid Diagnostic Test (mRDT) kits availability in malaria case management among children U5 years in Sokoto State.
- To document the effect of multi-strategy approach in improving malaria case management among children under five in Sokoto State.
Their methods included secondary data collection from the Sokoto State Health Management Information System (HMIS) from 2011 to 2014. No mRDTs were supplied to the State in 2011. In August 2012 – 108, 000 and 807, 850 kits were supplied by USAID/PMI through USAID/TSHIP with logistic support from USAID’s JSI/DELIVER to State Medical Store and distributed directly to HF. Service providers were trained on the job. Other activities included house-to-house education and counselling by community volunteers, radio phone in programs, face-to-face dialogue by ward development committees and radio jingles.
They found that although only 3% of health facilities (HF) provided malaria diagnostic services across the State, the percent of all facilities that provided the service had increased to 22% in August 2012 through 2015. The percent of children under five with fever symptoms and had confirmatory diagnostic tests for malaria was 19% and 20% in 2011 and 2012 respectively. By 2013, the coverage had tripled to 57% and had quadrupled to 84% in 2014. Overall, the percent of fever cases subjected to confirmatory diagnosis for malaria increased from 19% in 2011 to 84% in 2014.
In conclusion, the observed improvement in quality of malaria case management can be attributed to the availability of free mRDT at the HFs. Also contributing to the outcome were continuous training & mentoring of service providers and quality of awareness creation at community and HF level as well as through the media. Therefore, it is recommended that commodity logistics in support of supplying mRDT is strengthened to improve quality of malaria case management.