Improved malaria case management through the implementation of a health facility-based sentinel site surveillance system in Uganda

PLoS One. 2011 Jan 19;6(1):e16316. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0016316.


Background: Heath facility-based sentinel site surveillance has been proposed as a means of monitoring trends in malaria morbidity but may also provide an opportunity to improve malaria case management. Here we described the impact of a sentinel site malaria surveillance system on promoting laboratory testing and rational antimalarial drug use.

Methodology/principal findings: Sentinel site malaria surveillance was established at six health facilities in Uganda between September 2006 and January 2007. Data were collected from all patients presenting to the outpatient departments including demographics, laboratory results, diagnoses, and treatments prescribed. Between the start of surveillance and March 2010, a total 424,701 patients were seen of which 229,375 (54%) were suspected of having malaria. Comparing the first three months with the last three months of surveillance, the proportion of patients with suspected malaria who underwent diagnostic testing increased from 39% to 97% (p<0.001). The proportion of patients with an appropriate decision to prescribe antimalarial therapy (positive test result prescribed, negative test result not prescribed) increased from 64% to 95% (p<0.001). The proportion of patients appropriately prescribed antimalarial therapy who were prescribed the recommended first-line regimen artemether-lumefantrine increased from 48% to 69% (p<0.001).

Conclusions/significance: The establishment of a sentinel site malaria surveillance system in Uganda achieved almost universal utilization of diagnostic testing in patients with suspected malaria and appropriate decisions to prescribed antimalarial based on test results. Less success was achieved in promoting prescribing practice for the recommended first-line therapy. This system could provide a model for improving malaria case management in other health facilities in Africa.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antimalarials / therapeutic use
  • Artemether, Lumefantrine Drug Combination
  • Artemisinins / therapeutic use
  • Case Management / standards*
  • Drug Combinations
  • Ethanolamines
  • Fluorenes / therapeutic use
  • Health Facilities / standards*
  • Health Facilities / trends
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Malaria / epidemiology*
  • Malaria / therapy
  • Sentinel Surveillance*
  • Uganda / epidemiology


  • Antimalarials
  • Artemether, Lumefantrine Drug Combination
  • Artemisinins
  • Drug Combinations
  • Ethanolamines
  • Fluorenes