By Irene V. Nambi & James Karuhanga
Following the release of new malaria treatment guidelines by the WHO, the acting Director General of TRAC-plus, Dr. Corrine Karema, has noted that Rwanda is ahead of the new recommendations.
According to the second edition guidelines, WHO recommends that prompt parasitological confirmation by microscopy or Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDTs) should be done for all patients suspected of malaria before treatment commences.
Karema explained that Rwanda is among the few developing countries that are quickly facilitating malaria testing before administering treatment.
“We are ahead of the new recommendations because we are training our Community Based Health Workers (CBHW) countrywide to be able to administer malaria treatment only after carrying out tests,” she said.
“We have over 45000 CBHWs across the country, and in eight districts, these workers are already administering the RDTs to patients. Certainly by the end of the year this system will be possible countrywide.”
The medical official also said that, state-of-the-art microscopic equipment is also available at all health centers and district hospitals.
WHO, however, adds that “treatment solely on the basis of clinical suspicion should only be considered when a parasitological diagnosis is not accessible”.
In 2006 the organization recommended the use of Artemisinin based Combination Therapies (ACTs) as the first-line treatment instead of the monotherapy as a way of dealing with drug resistant malaria.
The Acting TRAC plus boss emphasized that in response to the first edition, only ACTs were adopted as the as the first-line treatment to replace medication like chloroquine among others.
In a document, WHO explains that these guidelines aim to provide simple and straight forward treatment recommendations based on sound evidence that can be applied even in severely resource-constrained settings.
Experts note that malaria ranks among the top killer diseases, especially for children below the age of five.
Annually about 250 million people are infected with malaria of which 860,000 die. Mortality statistics show that 85 percent of these are children in Africa.