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Malar J. 2008 May 29;7:96. doi: 10.1186/1475-2875-7-96.

Access to artemisinin combination therapy for malaria in remote areas of Cambodia.

Author information

  • 1Health Policy Unit, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London, WC1E 7HT, UK. shunmay@tropmedres.ac

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Malaria-endemic countries are switching antimalarial drug policy to artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs) and the global community are considering the setting up of a global subsidy mechanism in order to make them accessible and affordable. However, specific interventions may be needed to reach remote at-risk communities and to ensure that they are used appropriately. This analysis documents the coverage with ACTs versus artemisinin monotherapies, and the effectiveness of malaria outreach teams (MOTs) and Village Malaria Workers (VMWs) in increasing access to appropriate diagnosis and treatment with ACTs in Cambodia, the first country to switch national antimalarial drug policy to an ACT of artesunate and mefloquine (A+M) in 2000.

METHODS:

A cross-sectional survey was carried out in three different types of intervention area: with VMWs, MOTs and no specific interventions. Individuals with a history of fever in the last three weeks were included in the study and completed a questionnaire on their treatment seeking and drug usage behaviour. Blood was taken for a rapid diagnostic test (RDT) and data on the household socio-economic status were also obtained.

RESULTS:

In areas without specific interventions, only 17% (42/251) of respondents received a biological diagnosis, 8% (17/206) of respondents who received modern drug did so from a public health facility, and only 8% of them (17/210) received A+M. Worryingly, 78% (102/131) of all artemisinin use in these areas was as a monotherapy. However, both the VMW scheme and MOT scheme significantly increased the likelihood of being seen by a trained provider (Adjusted Odds Ratios (AOR) of 148 and 4 respectively) and of receiving A+M (AORs of 2.7 and 7.7 respectively).

CONCLUSION:

The coverage rates of appropriate diagnosis and treatment of malaria were disappointingly low and the use of artemisinin monotherapy alarmingly high. This reflects the fragmented nature of Cambodia's health system in remote areas and the reliance placed by these communities on informal vendors from whom artemisinin monotherapies are widely available. However VMWs in particular are an effective means of improving access to malaria diagnosis and treatment. The VMW scheme and the social marketing of RDTS and blister-packaged artesunate and mefloquine have both been scaled up nationally. Case management in the public sector has also reportedly improved. Given recent concerns regarding the development of artemisinin drug resistance on the Thai-Cambodia border, the effectiveness of these measures in reducing the use of artemisinin monotherapy needs to be urgently re-evaluated.

PMID:
18510724
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2430580
Free PMC Article
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