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Med Decis Making. 2014 Nov;34(8):996-1005. doi: 10.1177/0272989X14533609. Epub 2014 May 14.

Comparing decisions for malaria testing and presumptive treatment: a net health benefit analysis.

Author information

1
Department of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA (SB, SM, EB).

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Rapid tests for malaria are being distributed through vendors to individual patients, presenting the dilemma of determining how individuals are incentivized to pursue testing for malaria, versus the traditional approach of presumptively treating fevers with antimalarial drugs.

METHODS AND FINDINGS:

We incorporated testing and treatment data from 6 African countries into a dynamic model of malaria transmission and nonmalarial causes of fever to investigate how variations in the epidemiologic risk of malaria and the prices of rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) and treatments affect testing and treatment choices from the perspective of febrile patients, public health officials, and drug shop owners. In environments falling below a critical threshold infection rate (entomological inoculation rate) of 282 for patients older than 5 years (95% confidence interval [CI]: 275-289) or 300 for 0- to 5-year-olds (95% CI: 203-307), testing was more beneficial than presumptive therapy in terms of health and financial costs to patients. Infection and cost conditions generally aligned the best patient-level strategy with the best public health strategy to minimize an overall population's morbidity and mortality from both malaria and nonmalarial causes of fever. However, the infection and cost conditions of very high malaria transmission settings did not align patient interests or public health interests with the interests of private drug shop owners. In such settings, a further lowering of testing prices may realign the interests of all 3 parties.

CONCLUSIONS:

A threshold transmission rate exists under which malaria testing confers more health and financial benefits to patients than presumptive treatment. Studying local transmission rates and testing and treatment costs may facilitate an approach to align the interests of individual patients, public health officials, and distributors of tests and therapies.

KEYWORDS:

artemisinin-based combination therapy; health care costs; malaria; mathematical model; presumptive treatment; rapid diagnostic tests

PMID:
24829277
DOI:
10.1177/0272989X14533609
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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