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Bull World Health Organ. 2001; 79(10): 933–941.
Published online Nov 1, 2001.
PMCID: PMC2566678

Diagnosis of malaria in a remote area of the Philippines: comparison of techniques and their acceptance by health workers and the community.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To compare the efficacies of remote symptom-based diagnosis of malaria, rapid diagnostic tests and microscopy in an area of low endemicity in the Philippines. METHODS: In Trial I, 350 symptomatic patients were tested within their villages using malaria Plasmodium falciparum (Pf)/Plasmodium vivax (Pv) immunochromatographic tests (ICT tests) and blood films stored and read under local conditions. The slides were later restained and read. In Trial II, unsupervised volunteer barangay health workers prepared ICT tests and slides after brief training. These slides were read at rural health units. Twenty-seven barangay health workers and 72 community members were later questioned about the three diagnostic strategies. FINDINGS: A history of fever alone was sensitive (95.4%) but poorly specific (16.5%) for predicting parasitaemia. The inclusion of other symptoms reduced the sensitivity to below 85%, while specificity remained low. The axillary temperature was poorly predictive. ICT tests achieved high sensitivity (97.9%) but many cases indicated as positive by ICT tests were negative by microscopy. Further analysis of these cases in Trial I indicated that ICT tests were detecting low-level parasitaemias missed by microscopy, and that local microscopy had poor accuracy. ICT tests were well accepted and accurately performed by barangay health workers. CONCLUSION: These tests meet a strong desire in the community for blood-based diagnosis and may increase the compliance and treatment-seeking behaviour of patients.

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