Background: This study examines the diagnosis of malaria and pattern of prescription of antimalarial drugs in the most vulnerable age group (the under 5 children) in the study environment in order to identify the possible shortcomings and suggest solutions so as to improve the treatment outcome in future.
Methods: The hospital records of 430 children with malaria infection admitted for treatment in a chosen tertiary health facility between January to December 2005 were selected for study. Forty-eight case records were excluded due to incomplete information. Data on demographic, clinical features of disease, diagnostic procedures, drug administration and the treatment out come were collected from the patients' records.
Results: Analysis of the data revealed that more male (213) than female (169) children were admitted for malaria treatment: Fever with convulsion (55.8%) was the commonest presenting symptoms, and anemia was the most frequent complications of malaria recorded. Chloroquine was found to be the most prescribed antimalarial agent and overall antemisinin-based drug was prescribed either as a first or second line treatment in only 18.2% of the cases. The death rate recorded was 16%.
Conclusion: The pattern of antimalarial drugs prescription in the study center in most cases did not meet the recommended guidelines. The prescriptions were predominantly chloroquine, instead of artemisinin based. The death rate was comparatively high. Measures to raise the level of awareness among the practitioners on the current National policy on malaria treatment through seminars and workshops were suggested.