Community knowledge and attitudes and health workers' practices regarding non-malaria febrile illnesses in eastern Tanzania.
ABSTRACT: INTRODUCTION: Although malaria has been the leading cause of fever for many years, with improved control regimes malaria transmission, morbidity and mortality have decreased. Recent studies have increasingly demonstrated the importance of non-malaria fevers, which have significantly improved our understanding of etiologies of febrile illnesses. A number of non-malaria febrile illnesses including Rift Valley Fever, dengue fever, Chikungunya virus infection, leptospirosis, tick-borne relapsing fever and Q-fever have been reported in Tanzania. This study aimed at assessing the awareness of communities and practices of health workers on non-malaria febrile illnesses. METHODS: Twelve focus group discussions with members of communities and 14 in-depth interviews with health workers were conducted in Kilosa district, Tanzania. Transcripts were coded into different groups using MaxQDA software and analyzed through thematic content analysis. RESULTS: The study revealed that the awareness of the study participants on non-malaria febrile illnesses was low and many community members believed that most instances of fever are due to malaria. In addition, the majority had inappropriate beliefs about the possible causes of fever. In most cases, non-malaria febrile illnesses were considered following a negative Malaria Rapid Diagnostic Test (mRDT) result or persistent fevers after completion of anti-malaria dosage. Therefore, in the absence of mRDTs, there is over diagnosis of malaria and under diagnosis of non-malaria illnesses. Shortages of diagnostic facilities for febrile illnesses including mRDTs were repeatedly reported as a major barrier to proper diagnosis and treatment of febrile patients. CONCLUSION: Our results emphasize the need for creating community awareness on other causes of fever apart from malaria. Based on our study, appropriate treatment of febrile patients will require inputs geared towards strengthening of diagnostic facilities, drugs availability and optimal staffing of health facilities.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Inappropriate treatment of malaria is widely reported particularly in areas where there is poor access to health facilities and self-treatment of fevers with anti-malarial drugs bought in shops is the most common form of care-seeking. The main objective of the study was to examine the impact of introducing rapid diagnostic tests for malaria (mRDTs) in registered drug shops in Uganda, with the aim to increase appropriate treatment of malaria with artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) in patients seeking treatment for fever in drug shops. METHODS:A cluster-randomized trial of introducing mRDTs in registered drug shops was implemented in 20 geographical clusters of drug shops in Mukono district, central Uganda. Ten clusters were randomly allocated to the intervention (diagnostic confirmation of malaria by mRDT followed by ACT) and ten clusters to the control arm (presumptive treatment of fevers with ACT). Treatment decisions by providers were validated by microscopy on a reference blood slide collected at the time of consultation. The primary outcome was the proportion of febrile patients receiving appropriate treatment with ACT defined as: malaria patients with microscopically-confirmed presence of parasites in a peripheral blood smear receiving ACT or rectal artesunate, and patients with no malaria parasites not given ACT. FINDINGS:A total of 15,517 eligible patients (8672 intervention and 6845 control) received treatment for fever between January-December 2011. The proportion of febrile patients who received appropriate ACT treatment was 72·9% versus 33·7% in the control arm; a difference of 36·1% (95% CI: 21·3 - 50·9), p<0·001. The majority of patients with fever in the intervention arm accepted to purchase an mRDT (97·8%), of whom 58·5% tested mRDT-positive. Drug shop vendors adhered to the mRDT results, reducing over-treatment of malaria by 72·6% (95% CI: 46·7- 98·4), p<0·001) compared to drug shop vendors using presumptive diagnosis (control arm). CONCLUSION:Diagnostic testing with mRDTs compared to presumptive treatment of fevers implemented in registered drug shops substantially improved appropriate treatment of malaria with ACT. TRIAL REGISTRATION:ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01194557.
Project description:Suspected malaria cases in Africa increasingly receive a rapid diagnostic test (RDT) before antimalarials are prescribed. While this ensures efficient use of resources to clear parasites, the underlying cause of the individual's fever remains unknown due to potential coinfection with a non-malarial febrile illness. Widespread use of RDTs does not necessarily prevent over-estimation of clinical malaria cases or sub-optimal case management of febrile patients. We present a new approach that allows inference of the spatiotemporal prevalence of both Plasmodium falciparum malaria-attributable and non-malarial fever in sub-Saharan African children from 2006 to 2014. We estimate that 35.7% of all self-reported fevers were accompanied by a malaria infection in 2014, but that only 28.0% of those (10.0% of all fevers) were causally attributable to malaria. Most fevers among malaria-positive children are therefore caused by non-malaria illnesses. This refined understanding can help improve interpretation of the burden of febrile illness and shape policy on fever case management.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Fever remains a major public health problem. In Burkina Faso, more than half of febrile children are considered not to be infected by malaria. This study prospectively assessed probable (treatable) causes of fever in Burkinabe children. METHODS:A prospective study was conducted among febrile children (?37.5 °C) under 5 years of age presenting at four health facilities and one referral hospital in rural Burkina Faso. From each participant, blood was collected for malaria microscopy and culture, urine for dipstick testing and culturing if tested positive for leucocytes and nitrite, stool for rotavirus/adenovirus testing, culture and parasitology, and a nasopharyngeal swab for culture. RESULTS:In total 684 febrile children were included in the study. Plasmodium falciparum malaria was found in 49.7% (340/684) of the participants and non-malaria infections in 49.1% (336/684) of children. The non-nalaria infections included gastro-intestinal infections (37.0%), common bacterial pathogens of nasopharynx (24.3%), bacterial bloodstream infections (6.0%) and urinary tract infections (1.8%). Nearly 45% (154/340) of the malaria infected children were co-infected with non-nalaria infections, but only 3.2% (11/340) of these co-infections could be considered as a possible alternative cause of fever. In contrast, in the malaria microscopy negative children 18.0% (62/344) of the infections could be the probable cause of the fever. Pathogens were not isolated from 23.7% (162/684) of the febrile cases. CONCLUSIONS:Malaria remains the most common pathogen found in febrile children in Burkina Faso. However, a relative high number of febrile children had non-malaria infections. The correct diagnosis of these non-malaria fevers is a major concern, and there is an urgent need to develop more point-of-care diagnostic tests and capacities to identify and treat the causes of these fevers.
Project description:INTRODUCTION:Bacterial etiologies of non-malaria febrile illnesses have significantly become important due to high mortality and morbidity, particularly in children. Despite their importance, there are few reports on the epidemiology of these diseases in Tanzania, and the true burden of such illnesses remains unknown. This study aimed to identify the prevalence of leptospirosis, brucellosis, typhoid fever and urinary tract infections and their rate of co-infections with malaria. METHODS:A cross-sectional study was conducted at Kilosa district hospital in Tanzania for 6 months. Febrile children aged from 2-13 years were recruited from the outpatient department. Patients were screened by serological tests such as IgM and IgG ELISA, and microscopic agglutination test. RESULTS:A total of 370 patients were enrolled; of these 85 (23.0%) had malaria parasites, 43 (11.6%) had presumptive acute leptospirosis and 26/200 (13%) had confirmed leptospirosis. Presumptive acute brucellosis due to B. abortus was identified among 26 (7.0%) of patients while B. melitensis was detected in 57 (15.4%) of the enrolled patients. Presumptive typhoid fever due to S. Typhi was identified in thirty eight (10.3%) of the participants and 69 (18.6%) had urinary tract infections. Patients presented with similar symptoms; therefore, the identification of these diseases could not be done based on clinical ground alone. Co-infections between malaria and bacterial febrile illnesses were observed in 146 patients (39.5%). Although antibacterials and/or anti-malarials were prescribed in most patients, some patients did not receive the appropriate treatment. CONCLUSION:The study has underscored the importance of febrile bacterial diseases including zoonoses such as leptospirosis and brucellosis in febrile children, and thus such illnesses should be considered by clinicians in the differential diagnoses of febrile diseases. However, access to diagnostic tests for discrimination of febrile illnesses is needed. This would allow febrile patients to receive the correct diagnoses and facilitation of accurate and prompt treatment.
Project description:Viral etiologies of fever, including dengue, Chikungunya, influenza, rota and adeno viruses, cause major disease burden in tropical and subtropical countries. The lack of diagnostic facilities in developing countries leads to failure to estimate the true burden of such illnesses, and generally the diseases are underreported. These diseases may have similar symptoms with other causes of acute febrile illnesses including malaria and hence clinical diagnosis without laboratory tests can be difficult. This study aimed to identify viral etiologies as a cause of fever in children and their co-infections with malaria.A cross sectional study was conducted for 6 months at Kilosa district hospital, Tanzania. The participants were febrile children aged 2-13 years presented at the outpatient department. Diagnostic tests such as IgM and IgG ELISA, and PCR were used.A total of 364 patients were enrolled, of these 83(22.8%) had malaria parasites, 76 (20.9%) had presumptive acute dengue infection and among those, 29(38.2%) were confirmed cases. Dengue was more likely to occur in children ? 5 years than in <5 years (OR 2.28, 95% CI: 1.35-3.86). Presumptive acute Chikungunya infection was identified in 17(4.7%) of patients. We observed no presenting symptoms that distinguished patients with Chikungunya infection from those with dengue infection or malaria. Co-infections between malaria and Chikungunya, malaria and dengue fever as well as Chikungunya and dengue were detected. Most patients with Chikungunya and dengue infections were treated with antibacterials. Furthermore, our results revealed that 5(5.2%) of patients had influenza virus while 5(12.8%) had rotavirus and 2(5.1%) had adenovirus.Our results suggest that even though viral diseases are a major public health concern, they are not given due recognition as a cause of fever in febrile patients. Emphasis on laboratory diagnostic tests for proper diagnosis and management of febrile patients is recommended.
Project description:Universal malaria diagnostic testing of all fever cases is the first step in correct malaria case management. However, monitoring adherence to universal testing is complicated by unreliable recording and reporting of the true number of fever cases. We searched the literature to obtain gold-standard estimates for the proportion of patients attending outpatient clinics in sub-Saharan Africa with malarial and non-malarial febrile illness. To correct for differences in malaria transmission, we calculated the proportion of patients with fever after excluding confirmed malaria cases. Next, we analyzed routine data from Guinea and Senegal to calculate the proportion of outpatients tested after exclusion of confirmed malaria cases from the numerator and denominator. From 12 health facility surveys in sub-Saharan Africa with gold-standard fever screening, the median proportion of febrile illness among outpatients after exclusion of confirmed malaria fevers was 57% (range: 46-80%). Analysis of routine data after exclusion of confirmed malaria cases demonstrated much lower testing proportions of 23% (Guinea) and 13% (Senegal). There was substantial spatial and temporal heterogeneity in this testing proportion, and testing in Senegal was correlated with malaria season. Given the evidence from gold-standard surveys that at least 50% of non-malaria consultations in sub-Saharan Africa are for febrile illness, it appears that a substantial proportion of patients with fever are not tested for malaria in health facilities when considering routine data. Tracking the proportion of patients tested for malaria after exclusion of the confirmed malaria cases could allow programs to make inferences about malaria testing practices using routine data.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The disease burden of Plasmodium falciparum malaria illness is generally estimated using one of two distinct approaches: either by transforming P. falciparum infection prevalence estimates into incidence estimates using conversion formulae; or through adjustment of counts of recorded P. falciparum-positive fever cases from clinics. Whilst both ostensibly seek to evaluate P. falciparum disease burden, there is an implicit and problematic difference in the metric being estimated. The first enumerates only symptomatic malaria cases, while the second enumerates all febrile episodes coincident with a P. falciparum infection, regardless of the fever's underlying cause. METHODS:Here, a novel approach was used to triangulate community-based data sources capturing P. falciparum infection, fever, and care-seeking to estimate the fraction of P. falciparum-positive fevers amongst children under 5 years of age presenting at health facilities that are attributable to P. falciparum infection versus other non-malarial causes. A Bayesian hierarchical model was used to assign probabilities of malaria-attributable fever (MAF) and non-malarial febrile illness (NMFI) to children under five from a dataset of 41 surveys from 21 countries in sub-Saharan Africa conducted between 2006 and 2016. Using subsequent treatment-seeking outcomes, the proportion of MAF and NMFI amongst P. falciparum-positive febrile children presenting at public clinics was estimated. RESULTS:Across all surveyed malaria-positive febrile children who sought care at public clinics across 41 country-years in sub-Saharan Africa, P. falciparum infection was estimated to be the underlying cause of only 37.7% (31.1-45.4, 95% CrI) of P. falciparum-positive fevers, with significant geographical and temporal heterogeneity between surveys. CONCLUSIONS:These findings highlight the complex nature of the P. falciparum burden amongst children under 5 years of age and indicate that for many children presenting at health clinics, a positive P. falciparum diagnosis and a fever does not necessarily mean P. falciparum is the underlying cause of the child's symptoms, and thus other causes of illness should always be investigated, in addition to prescribing an effective anti-malarial medication. In addition to providing new large-scale estimates of malaria-attributable fever prevalence, the results presented here improve comparability between different methods for calculating P. falciparum disease burden, with significant implications for national and global estimation of malaria burden.
Project description:The presumptive approach of confirming malaria in health facilities leads to over-diagnosis of malaria, over use of anti-malaria drugs and the risk of drug resistance development. WHO recommends parasitological confirmation before treatment with artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) in all suspected malaria patients. The use of malaria rapid diagnostic tests (mRDTs) would make it possible for prescribers to diagnose malaria at point-of-care and better target the use of antimalarials. Therefore, a cost-effectiveness analysis was performed on the introduction of mRDTs for management of malaria in under-five children in a high transmission area in Ghana where presumptive diagnosis was the norm in public health centres.A cluster-randomised controlled trial where thirty-two health centres were randomised into test-based diagnosis of malaria using mRDTs (intervention) or clinical judgement (control) was used to measure the effect of mRDTs on appropriate treatment: 'a child with a positive reference diagnosis prescribed a course of ACT or a child with a negative reference diagnosis not given an ACT'. Cost data was collected from five purposively selected health centres and used to estimate the health sector costs of performing an mRDT and treat children for malaria and other common febrile illnesses. Costs of training healthcare personnel and supervision in the study period were also collected. A sample of caregivers to children participating in the trial was interviewed about household cost incurred on transport, drugs, fees, and special food during a period of one week after the health centre visit as well as days unable to work. A decision model approach was used to calculate the incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs). Univariate and multivariate sensitivity analyses were applied to assess the robustness of ICERs.The availability of mRDTs for malaria diagnosis resulted in fewer ACT treatments compared to the clinical judgement approach (73% versus 81%) and more children appropriately treated (70% versus 57%). The introduction of mRDT-based diagnosis would cost the Ministry of Health US$18.6 per extra appropriately treated child under five compared to clinical judgement while the ICER from a societal perspective was lower at US$11.0 per appropriately treated child. ICERs were sensitive to a decrease in adherence to negative mRDTs, malaria positivity rate and specificity of the mRDT.The introduction of mRDTs is likely to be considered cost-effective in this high transmission setting as this intervention increased the number of appropriately treated children at low cost.ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00832754.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Rapid diagnostic tests for malaria (mRDTs) have been scaled-up widely across Africa. The PRIME study evaluated an intervention aiming to improve fever case management using mRDTs at public health centers in Uganda. METHODS:A cluster-randomized trial was conducted from 2010-13 in Tororo, a high malaria transmission setting. Twenty public health centers were randomized in a 1:1 ratio to intervention or control. The intervention included training in health center management, fever case management with mRDTs, and patient-centered services; plus provision of mRDTs and artemether-lumefantrine (AL) when stocks ran low. Three rounds of Interviews were conducted with caregivers of children under five years of age as they exited health centers (N = 1400); reference mRDTs were done in children with fever (N = 1336). Health worker perspectives on mRDTs were elicited through semi-structured questionnaires (N = 49) and in-depth interviews (N = 10). The primary outcome was inappropriate treatment of malaria, defined as the proportion of febrile children who were not treated according to guidelines based on the reference mRDT. FINDINGS:There was no difference in inappropriate treatment of malaria between the intervention and control arms (24.0% versus 29.7%, adjusted risk ratio 0.81 [95% CI: 0.56, 1.17] p = 0.24). Most children (76.0%) tested positive by reference mRDT, but many were not prescribed AL (22.5% intervention versus 25.9% control, p = 0.53). Inappropriate treatment of children testing negative by reference mRDT with AL was also common (31.3% invention vs 42.4% control, p = 0.29). Health workers appreciated mRDTs but felt that integrating testing into practice was challenging given constraints on time and infrastructure. CONCLUSIONS:The PRIME intervention did not have the desired impact on inappropriate treatment of malaria for children under five. In this high transmission setting, use of mRDTs did not lead to the reductions in antimalarial prescribing seen elsewhere. Broader investment in health systems, including infrastructure and staffing, will be required to improve fever case management.
Project description:The increasing investment in malaria rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) to differentiate malarial and non-malarial fevers, and an awareness of the need to improve case management of non-malarial fever, indicates an urgent need for high quality evidence on how best to improve prescribers' practices.A three-arm stratified cluster-randomised trial was conducted in 36 primary healthcare facilities from September 2010 to March 2012 within two rural districts in northeast Tanzania where malaria transmission has been declining. Interventions were guided by formative mixed-methods research and were introduced in phases. Prescribing staff from all facilities received standard Ministry of Health RDT training. Prescribers from facilities in the health worker (HW) and health worker-patient (HWP) arms further participated in small interactive peer-group training sessions with the HWP additionally receiving clinic posters and patient leaflets. Performance feedback and motivational mobile-phone text messaging (SMS) were added to the HW and HWP arms in later phases. The primary outcome was the proportion of patients with a non-severe, non-malarial illness incorrectly prescribed a (recommended) antimalarial. Secondary outcomes investigated RDT uptake, adherence to results, and antibiotic prescribing.Standard RDT training reduced pre-trial levels of antimalarial prescribing, which was sustained throughout the trial. Both interventions significantly lowered incorrect prescribing of recommended antimalarials from 8% (749/8,942) in the standard training arm to 2% (250/10,118) in the HW arm (adjusted RD (aRD) 4%; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1% to 6%; P = 0.008) and 2% (184/10,163) in the HWP arm (aRD 4%; 95% CI 1% to 6%; P = 0.005). Small group training and SMS were incrementally effective. There was also a significant reduction in the prescribing of antimalarials to RDT-negatives but no effect on RDT-positives receiving an ACT. Antibiotic prescribing was significantly lower in the HWP arm but had increased in all arms compared with pre-trial levels.Small group training with SMS was associated with an incremental and sustained improvement in prescriber adherence to RDT results and reducing over-prescribing of antimalarials to close to zero. These interventions may become increasingly important to cope with the wider range of diagnostic and treatment options for patients with acute febrile illness in Africa.