Kampala, 22 February 2011: Malaria Consortium Uganda is training health workers in the use of rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) for malaria in the hope that more widespread use will improve fever case management in health facilities.
Malaria Consortium is working with district level health officials in Buliisa and Kibaale districts, central Uganda, to strengthen the capacity of low-level health workers to diagnose and improve fever case management diagnostics and reduce the unnecessary use of antimalarial drugs. Besides helping to save lives, this Comic Relief funded project supports improved diagnosis of fever in children at health facilities which in turn eases the workload as they are often stretched to capacity.
Buliisa and Kibaale were chosen because of the high level of need for such services in the hospitals stretched to capacity. Malaria Consortium prepared the ground for this support by training district level trainers in both districts.
During the training, the health worker trainers learned the correct use of RDTs, including training on performing and reading an RDT, and next steps for fever management with both positive and negative RDT results, as well as referral procedures for complicated cases.
“Diagnosis for malaria is important because it will reduce drug misuse,” said trainee Sister Eunice Nyangoma, a nursing supervisor in Buliisa. “We will give medication to the right patients and we will reduce [drug] stockouts. The health facilities here are happy because they are gaining new skills and knowledge. The health workers here are accepting the RDTs. It is a good thing to integrate the RDTs into health facility work. It is good that all health workers have been involved.”
Justine Kukundakwe, another nurse and trainee in RDT training concurred, saying that malaria incidence reporting will decrease with RDT use due to the greater accuracy of diagnosis, and that this will have a dramatic effect on the disease pattern in the area.
“The training has been good. I was not sure how the RDTs work but now I have experienced using it. It will be interesting to see how much malaria we actually have as we are all assuming there is a lot of malaria in our area.”
The diagnostic impact that timely testing for malaria has on primary health outcomes was demonstrated by Chantale Kawambe, whose little girl was a patient at Butiaba Health Centre in Buliisa.
“My child had fever and so I came to the health facility. She was also refusing to eat and so I thought it was malaria. I was told that they wanted to find out if my child had malaria and so they needed to do a test. I think this is a good thing as first we need to find out the problem so we can get the right treatment.”
Chantale’s daughter tested negative for malaria and was treated appropriately for her fever. Prior to the training in RDTs, however, she would very likely have been given anti-malaria drugs, which would not have worked.
Now with the training provided to health facility workers in RDT use, the detection and treatment of febrile illness can be greatly expedited, and complicated cases can be exposed and referred more rapidly.
For further information, please contact Diana Thomas [email protected].