Early diagnosis and prompt, effective treatment is the basis for the management of malaria and key to reducing malaria mortality and morbidity. Demonstration of the presence of malaria parasites prior to treatment with antimalarial drugs is fundamental to this goal, as clinical diagnosis has poor accuracy and leads to over-diagnosis of malaria with resultant poor management of non-malarial febrile illness and wastage of antimalarial drugs. While microscopy remains the mainstay of parasite-based diagnosis in most large health clinics and hospitals, the quality of microscopy-based diagnosis is frequently inadequate for ensuring good health outcomes and optimal use of resources. An acceptable microscopy service is one that is costeffective, provides results that are consistently accurate and timely enough to have a direct impact on treatment. This requires capacity building and a comprehensive and active quality assurance (QA) programme.
The 2014 -2015 National Malaria Strategic Plan for the country (Nigeria) is envisioned to achieve a malaria free Nigeria by 2020 where we would have attained the pre-elimination phase with slide positivity rate below 5%. In this plan, 80 -100% of febrile patients in both the private and public sector facilities should be tested using a quality assured diagnostics – microscopy or RDTs by 2018/2020. There are current challenges in the diagnosis of malaria especially as the epidemiology of malaria continues to change. In 2010, malaria prevalence in the community
among children less than 5 years was 42%. In 2015 this figure was 27%. Most tests are likely to be negative especially in the dry seasons while parasitaemia will continue to decrease. This makes the acquisition of skills to detect low level parasitaemia and greater care being taken to declare a malaria blood film negative. Furthermore, The 2018 World Malaria Report also indicated increased malaria burden in several countries. It is therefore important that countries, institutions and related organizations build the capacity of their core malaria diagnosis personnel
for national and global competitiveness. We have an enviable track record. Our current capacity to deliver quality malaria diagnosis capacity development programmes innovatively with simplicity and great outcomes. We have
also been able to conduct clinical diagnostic trial with rigorous malaria diagnosis protocol with excellence. This is our strength as well as our current expanded capacity to serve as a clinical trial site for malaria test evaluation.
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