Malaria case detection using rapid diagnostic test at the community level in Ghana: consumer perception and practitioners’ experiences

Background: Ghana has scaled-up malaria control strategies over the past decade. Much as malaria morbidity and mortality seem to have declined with these efforts, there appears to be increased consumption of artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT). This study explored the perception and experiences of community members and medi‑ cines outlet practitioners on malaria case detection using rapid diagnostic test (RDTs) to guide malaria therapy. Methods: This was a cross-sectional study using both quantitative and qualitative approaches for data. In-depth interviews with structured questionnaires were conducted among 197 practitioners randomly selected from com‑ munity pharmacies and over-the-counter medicine sellers shops within two metropolis (Kumasi and Obuasi) in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. Two focus group discussions were also held in the two communities among female adult caregivers. Results: Medicine outlet practitioners and community members often used raised body temperature of individuals as an index for malaria case detection. The raised body temperature was presumptively determined by touching the forehead with hands. Seventy percent of the practitioners’ perceived malaria RDTs are used in hospitals and clinics but not in retail medicines outlets. Many of the practitioners and community members agreed to the need for using RDT for malaria case detection at medicine outlets. However, about 30 % of the practitioners (n = 59) and some commu‑ nity members (n = 6) held the view that RDT negative results does not mean no malaria illness and would use ACT. Conclusions: Though malaria RDT use in medicines outlets was largely uncommon, both community members and medicine outlet practitioners welcomed its use. Public education is however needed to improve malaria case detec‑ tion using RDTs at the community level, to inform appropriate use of ACT
This article is published by BioMed Central.
Danquah et al. Malar J (2016) 15:34 DOI 10.1186/s12936-016-1086-z