Significant gaps in care persist for children diagnosed with malaria in sub-Saharan Africa

Children diagnosed with malaria in nine sub-Saharan African often did not receive recommended care, and as many as 20% of children diagnosed with malaria in these countries received no antimalarial at all, according to new research from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute.

The study, published on September 14, 2020 in PLOS Medicine, focused on data from Uganda, Rwanda, Namibia, Kenya, Malawi, Senegal, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The findings showed that the proportion of children who were diagnosed with malaria by blood test and received appropriate antimalarial treatment ranged from 3.4% to as high as 57.1% across the nine countries. Nearly two-thirds of children with a malaria diagnosis either did not receive a blood test diagnosis or were not given a recommended antimalarial, according to the findings.

The study, led by Jessica Cohen, Bruce A. Beal, Robert L. Beal, and Alexander S. Beal Associate Professor of Global Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, also found that nearly 10% of children diagnosed with malaria received oral artemisinin monotherapy, which is not recommended due to concerns with drug resistance.

Significant gaps in clinical care persist even though malaria tests and effective antimalarial medications have become more accessible in the countries studied, the researchers noted.

Read the study: Quality of clinical management of children diagnosed with malaria: A cross-sectional assessment in 9 sub-Saharan African countries between 2007–2018