Rapid Diagnostic Testing Panorama
Rapid Diagnostic Testing

Effective diagnosis of malaria in rural settings can be achieved through the use of RDTs, saving money and lives.
Malaria can be diagnosed using either microscopy or rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) to detect the presence of malaria parasites in the blood. In remote areas, most low level health facilities have neither the laboratory equipment nor the skilled personnel required to carry out quality microscopy. Therefore, health workers in most low level health facilities have been accustomed to diagnosing malaria based only on clinical symptoms.  In Uganda, the policy until 2008 was to presumptively treat all fever cases presenting without parasite-based diagnostic. Presumptive treatment of malaria results in the overuse of anti-malarial drugs. This is not only costly, but also contributes to resistance building in mosquitoes and means that patients do not receive the appropriate treatment.

Under the lead of a 2010 WHO policy, countries shifted to a parasite-based diagnostic strategy through the introduction of Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDTs). A Rapid Diagnostic Test (or RDT) is a small device that detects the presence of specific antigens produced by malaria parasites in the blood of infected patients. This small tool can be used with minimal infrastructure and medical skills, and give results in 15 to 20 minutes. The introduction of RDTs enables countries to improve access to confirmatory diagnosis in remote areas, leading to improved fever case management, reduced wastage of expensive anti-malarial drugs, and enabling countries to better quantify and respond to the true burden of malaria.

Pioneer rolled out RDTs and training on how to use them in all Sub-County and Parish health centres where there was no laboratory capacity in three districts
In accordance with the National Malaria Control Programme,  Pioneer rolled out RDTs in all Sub-County and Parish health centres in three districts where there was no capacity to diagnose malaria through microscopy. The roll out of RDTs was preceded by training on how to use them for all relevant health workers. The training also dealt with how best to encourage patients to trust the result of the RDT and act in accordance with it. Key activities and achievements of Pioneers RDT campaign so far include:

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