Contrary to the World Health Organisation, WHO, guidelines that malaria tested negative persons should not be prescribed Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy, ACTs, Cameroon doctors and nurses have been wrongly administering ACTs to patients who do not have malaria, a study found.
The study indicated that 84 percent of tested-negative persons received ACTs and following training on the use of Rapid Diagnosis Tests, RDTs, the number of tested negative cases that were prescribed antimalarial they did not need was halved.
“Only three out of ten patients who go to the hospital with a fever have malaria and giving malaria medication to people who do not have malaria means wasting the drug and increasing the possibility of becoming resistant to anti-malaria therapy”, Prof. Wilfred Mbacham said as he present the findings of the study to government officials on April 29.
When WHO realised ACTs, whose basic raw materials are not available were lacking around the world, the only way to save ACTs and prevent resistance was not to put too much new combination therapy into the communities. Also, if resistance to ACTs is developed there may be no immediate succour for malaria treatment, Mbacham provided the rationale for the project.
Carried out in Yaounde and Bamenda for a period of five years, the study has demonstrated that by training doctors to properly use the RDT technology, 1million doses of ACTs evaluated at FCFA 5billion every year could be preserved.
Mbacham who co-led the study with Dr. Virginia Wiseman from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine said the analyses were threefold; associated with the health systems problem, the prescribers and patients.
Part of study indicated that the Cameroonian population were better informed on ACTs than the population in Nigeria, such that while the intervention in Cameroon was at the level of the prescribers, in Nigeria the population had to be educated.
During the study, 95 tool-kits have been developed for behaviour change, such as, the card game, the protocol to use, and what to do indifferent situations.
Mbacham stressed that with the findings there is need to go back to the medical schools and redo the training programme to integrate the new technologies so that by the time students graduate from the medical school, they are already equipped with the algorithm to begin practice.
Being one of the best projects sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the tune of 450,00 dollars the Cameroon government is expected to start implementing the results of the study.
Though it is doubtful that government would do so, Arthur Essomba head of Department of Care and Health Technology reassured that the government would take up the study which the has been commended to other countries.
One of 25 projects in ten countries, the study was published in the Lancet on April 25 in commemoration of the malaria day.