Expert Harps on Proper Malaria Test before Treatment

  •   Says there are over 300 causes of fever

Uchechukwu Nnaike

A Professor and Consultant Medical Parasitologist, Wellington Oyibo, has stressed the need to conduct proper diagnosis and test before any malaria drug can be administered on anyone to avoid mistaking any other condition for malaria.

Oyibo, who is the Head of the African Network for Drug Diagnostic Innovation (ANDi) Centre of Excellence for Malaria Diagnosis at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos, disclosed that apart from malaria, there are over 300 causes of fever, but because malaria is over diagnosed, people assume they have malaria anytime they are down with a fever and go ahead to treat without any test.

He regretted that many people, including health facilities don’t trust the Malaria Rapid Diagnostic Tests (MRDTs), they only believe in the long lab test and the capacity to do the lab test is low because of the processes and equipment involved. As a result, the country loses out because millions of the RDTs that are being donated through the global fund are not used.

According to Oyibo, the ANDi Centre is a World Health Organisation (WHO) Malaria Rapid Diagnostic Tests Verification Facility, the only facility in Africa so designated; therefore the MRDTs are good and have been quality assured, He said the test is 98 per cent accurate and reliable so people should use it, as it is also fast and helps for quick treatment of malaria if detected.

He described the malaria rapid diagnostic test as an output of science and it can be used anywhere in the country and it does not need electricity and its look alike is the urine pregnancy test.

While emphasising the importance of diagnosis, the don said: “Without diagnosis, medicine is blind; without diagnosis, the capacity and opportunity we have to deal with malaria will be difficult because we will be misrepresenting facts and the patients will not be getting the right kind of attention. One great danger we see when you don’t do good diagnosis for a patient that you suspect to have malaria is that patient could have a life threatening condition, which you want to just assume is malaria and then you gloss over that condition.

“A child could have pneumonia; fever is a way the body responds to diseases, but if you keep taking anti-malaria medicines then you delay treatment for the actual cause of that problem and then it might be too late.”

He said the centre conducts research, clinical trials and surveys; biomarker assessments and diagnostic implementation; pre-procurement test testing of RDT samples to ensure that they are suitable for use in hospitals. They must pass quality control before being deployed for use.

The centre also conducts lot testing; post-deployment quality assurance for consistency of performance; training on MRDTs (training manuals being developed; supervision and monitoring.

He said people should approach the centre if they have challenges and that the centre is working with the Federal Ministry of Health, The National Malaria Eradication Programme and a number of state governments.