Objectives: This enquiry aimed to provide a snap-shot of availability, price and quality of malaria rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) in private health facilities at selected sites in six malaria-endemic countries in Africa, South East Asia and South America.
Methods: In each study site, data collectors surveyed private healthcare facilities which were selected based on accessibility from their home institution. Using a questionnaire, information was recorded about the facility itself and the malaria RDT(s) available. Where possible, a small number of RDTs were procured and quality control tested using a standardized procedure.
Results: Of the 324 private healthcare facilities visited, 35 outlets (mainly private clinics and hospitals) were found to supply 10 different types of RDTs products. RDT prices across the six countries ranged from US$1.00 to $16.81. Five of the 14 malaria RDTs collected failed quality control testing.
Conclusions: In the private outlets sampled, the availability of RDTs was limited. Some of the RDTs whose quality we tested demonstrated inadequate sensitivity. This presents a number of risks. Given the more widespread distribution of antimalarials currently planned for private sector facilities, parasite-based diagnosis in this sector will be essential to adhere to the WHO guidelines for effective case management of malaria. Considerable regulation and quality control are also necessary to assure the availability of accurate and reliable RDTs, as well as adequate case management and provider adherence to RDT results. Public sector engagement is likely to be essential in this process.
© 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.