Quality of malaria case management in Zambia, 2011
The Zambian Ministry of Health (MOH) National Malaria Control center (NMCC) adopted artemisinin combination therapy (ACT) as a first-line antimalarial drug for uncomplicated malaria in 2003, and included rapid diagnostic testing (RDT) in its case management guidelines to reduce over-diagnosis of malaria and over-prescription of antimalarials. Prior research has highlighted gaps in the malaria case management process in Zambia, especially in diagnosis and treatment. The first paper of this study aimed to build quality indices or indicators for the four components of malaria case management: assessment, diagnosis, treatment and counseling. The Zambia MOH/NMCC conducted a nationally representative health facility survey in 2011 with the Malaria Control and Evaluation Partnership in Africa. The mean assessment quality (percentage of assessment items correctly completed) rate was 49.9%. The diagnostic quality (concordance with gold standard diagnosis) rate was 82.4%, with 86.9% sensitivity and 79.4% specificity. The treatment quality rate (correct treatment for those needing antimalarials and no treatment for patients not needing it) was 89.6%, and the mean counseling quality (percentage of counseling items correctly completed) rate was 48.6%. The second paper investigated factors association with each of the four components of malaria case management. Supervision was significantly associated with assessment and counseling but not diagnosis and treatment. Health facility managing authority was associated with assessment and diagnosis. Availability of blood tests was associated with correct diagnosis, and diagnosis was strongly associated with treatment. Malaria endemicity and availability of IMCI guidelines were associated with counseling quality. The third paper investigated the associated between counseling and patient recall of treatment regimen, and found that they were associated as hypothesized. The Zambia NMCC has improved the quality of malaria case management over previous years, although it is recommended that more health facility surveys are conducted in order to study the change in health worker performance over time.