Rapid Diagnostic Tests – An Intro
Portable and easy-to-use, malaria rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) detect the presence of the malaria parasite in the bloodstream, allowing for results in less than 25 minutes in resource-limited settings.
The malaria parasite strikes fast and what seems like a child’s simple fever can quickly become fatal. Almost 90% of the 650,000 people who died from malaria in 2010 were children. Early diagnosis, followed by appropriate treatment, is crucial in stemming deaths from malaria and reducing the risk of drug resistance. Due to a lack of easy-to-access malaria tests, many children are misdiagnosed and given anti-malarials at the first sign of fever, when in fact the ailment may be due to another cause. The result: children don’t get the treatment they need and the risk of drug resistance increases.
In 2010, WHO recommended that diagnostic tests be used to confirm all malaria cases prior to treatment with an anti-malarial medicine. Prior to this, the WHO’s advice was to presume that all fevers in malaria-affected regions were due to malaria and thus warranted treatment with anti-malarials. This paradigm shift resulted from the development of inexpensive RDTs. As the number of new malaria cases decreases, there is increasing need to differentiate a malaria fever from a non-malaria fever through the use of RDTs.
This market intervention, implemented by Population Services International (PSI), will help to develop a sustainable private sector market for RDTs in five malaria-endemic countries. RDTs are available in hospitals, clinics and other public sector outlets in these countries, but are nearly non-existent in pharmacies, markets and other private sector outlets where 40-60% of the population in malaria-endemic countries seek care for malaria. This project aims to transform the RDT market from a low-volume, high-margin market for poor quality RDTs to one where customers have easy access to affordable, quality-assured RDTs.