As malaria becomes endemic globally, especially in the tropics, the need to have malaria eradicated becomes imperative. This has prompted the World Health Organisation to being out guidelines on how this can be done. Early and accurate diagnosis of malaria is essential for both rapid and effective disease management and surveillance. High-quality malaria diagnosis is important in all settings as misdiagnosis can result in significant morbidity and mortality.
WHO recommends prompt malaria diagnosis either by microscopy or malaria rapid diagnostic test (RDT) in all patients with suspected malaria before treatment is administered.
Diagnostic testing improves the overall management of patients with febrile illnesses, and may also help to reduce the emergence and spread of drug resistance by reserving antimalarials for those who actually have the disease.
Treat. Track initiative
On World Malaria Day 2012, WHO launched a new initiative called T3: Test. Treat. Track, urging malaria-endemic countries, donors and the global malaria community to scale up diagnostic testing, treatment and surveillance for malaria.
This global initiative was developed to provide a framework for endemic countries to strengthen these three fundamental pillars of malaria control and elimination. T3 was launched by Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General, at an event in Windhoek, Namibia, hosted by Richard Kamwi, Minister of Health of Namibia.
Treat. Track. anchors the key policy messages of WHO’s recommendations on diagnostic testing, treatment and surveillance, i.e. that every suspected malaria case should be tested, every confirmed case should be treated with a quality-assured antimalarial medicine, and the disease should be tracked through a timely and accurate surveillance system.
Accurate diagnosis will significantly improve the quality of care and ensure that antimalarial medicines are used rationally and correctly. The scale-up of quality-assured antimalarials like Coatal-Forte Soft Gel, Camosunate and others in the public and private sectors will ensure that all malaria patients receive prompt treatment.
Improved surveillance for malaria cases and deaths will help ministries of health to determine which areas or population groups are most affected and help target resources to where they are most needed.