12 February 2016

Nigeria: U.S., Partners Donate 800,000 Malaria Test Kits

The federal ministry of health has taken delivery of 800,000 rapid diagnostic test (RDT) kits for malaria for distribution to nine states-Nasarawa, Sokoto, Zamfara, Ebonyi, Abia, Delta, Enugu, Plateau and Yobe.

The donation-provided by US-based diagnostic device maker Alere and the nonprofit Malaria No More-is part of some 2 million kits the US government has promised to provide in the next two years under the US President's Malaria Initiative.

Speaking at the handover of the kits at a primary health centre in Keffi, Nasarawa, Michael Harvey, director of mission at the US Agency for International Development, said the kits would help states' efforts in treating fevers "the right way and right away."

"Our commitment to this partnership is to support the distribution of the test kits to all health facilities across Nasarawa and eight other states, along with the life-saving medicines regularly donated by the American people for timely and effective malaria treatment," Harvey said.

RDT kits are recommended for easy testing for malaria before treatment for fever is administered, and the National Malaria Eradication Programme, which has backed RDTs has said testing before treating for malaria would reduce wastage of ACT (artemisinin-combination therapy, the standard drugs for treating malaria).

Data from the National Malaria Eradication Programme indicates prevalence of malaria has fallen in mainly urban areas of Nigeria, which puts it in line to take up a recommendation by the World Health Organisation to test for malaria before treating any fever.

"You have a situation where people are treated for diseases suspected to be malaria but not malaria," said Abdulrahman Yusuf, country representative for Standard Diagnostics, which makes the kits.

"Accurate, reliable and accessible diagnostic tests allow medication to be provided in a timely manner and are critical component of any solution that will ultimately lead to malaria eradication," said Duncan Blair, director of public health initiatives at Alere.

Head of case management at the National Malaria Eradication Programme, Dr Godwin Ntadom stressed RDT results are not inferior to microscopy, adding, "By 2020, we expected that when you test 100 people, only five will be positive [for malaria]. Then we can begin thinking of elimination [of the disease]."

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