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Trial of the ParaSight‐F test for malaria diagnosis in the primary health care system, Zimbabwe

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Rapid diagnosis of Plasmodium falciparum malaria remains one of the main limitations to prompt treatment. Diagnosis based on clinical symptoms is decidedly unreliable, especially in areas of seasonal transmission like Zimbabwe. In view of this, the Plasmodium falciparum histidine‐rich protein (HRP‐II) antigen detection assay (ParaSight‐F test) was tried at 10 health centres in 3 malaria endemicity zones of Zimbabwe, as a malaria diagnostic tool for primary health care. Parasitological evaluations were conducted using thick and thin film microscopy as gold standard, and ease of test operation and practicability to nurses were ascertained by questionnaire. The sensitivity of the test did not vary substantially by endemicity zone and was ≈93%. Specificities were 85, 72 and 92% in the hyperendemic, mesoendemic and hypoendemic zones, respectively. Positive predictive values varied considerably with endemicity, the lowest being in the hypoendemic zone (56%). However, negative predictive values did not change significantly, with a mean of 94%. It was found that the ParaSight‐F test reduced mistreatment for malaria, relative to clinical diagnosis, by up to 81%, especially in the hypoendemic region. Test acceptability evaluations were good.
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Keywords: Zimbabwe; diagnosis; endemicity; malaria

Document Type: Original Article

Affiliations: 1: Blair Research Laboratory, Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe, 2: Department of Medical Laboratory Technology, University of Zimbabwe Medical School, Avondale, Harare, Zimbabwe, 3: Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA

Publication date: 1997-06-01

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