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Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2012 Sep;87(3):437-46. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.2012.12-0127. Epub 2012 Jul 30.

Reductions in artemisinin-based combination therapy consumption after the nationwide scale up of routine malaria rapid diagnostic testing in Zambia.

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Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.


The National Malaria Control Center of Zambia introduced rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) to detect Plasmodium falciparum as a pilot in some districts in 2005 and 2006; scale up at a national level was achieved in 2009. Data on RDT use, drug consumption, and diagnostic results were collected in three Zambian health districts to determine the impact RDTs had on malaria case management over the period 2004-2009. Reductions were seen in malaria diagnosis and antimalarial drug prescription (66.1 treatments per facility-month (95% confidence interval [CI] = 44.7-87.4) versus 26.6 treatments per facility-month (95% CI = 11.8-41.4)) pre- and post-RDT introduction. Results varied between districts, with significant reductions in low transmission areas but none in high areas. Rapid diagnostic tests may contribute to rationalization of treatment of febrile illness and reduce antimalarial drug consumption in Africa; however, their impact may be greater in lower transmission areas. National scale data will be necessary to confirm these findings.

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