Study: Health Workers Fail To Adhere To New Malaria Treatment Guidelines

4351 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
Dr. Godfrey Magumba, the Executive director for Malaria Consortium, says the failure to adhere to the guidelines has increased cases of severe malaria leading to deaths and forms of disability especially in children such as epilepsy.

Health workers in Uganda have failed to adhere to the guidelines issued by the World Health Organisation- WHO three years ago for treating severe malaria.  This is contained in a report from a two year study conducted by Malaria Consortium in 20 districts that have a high burden of severe malaria.



They include Pader, Gulu, Nwoya, Kyegegwa and Kyenjojo districts among others. Severe malaria represents end stage of untreated or improperly treated uncomplicated malaria. If left untreated, it leads to near 100 percent mortality with a heavy toll on pregnant women and children.
 
 
In 2013, WHO revised the treatment and management of severe malaria, with injectable artesunate replacing quinine as the preferred treatment. However, since Uganda domesticated the guidelines in 2014, the study found that many health workers in the 20 pilot district have failed to adhere to the guidelines.



Dr. Godfrey Magumba, the Executive director for Malaria Consortium, says the failure to adhere to the guidelines has increased cases of severe malaria leading to deaths and forms of disability especially in children such as epilepsy.


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Dr. Jimmy Opio, the programs officer, Malaria Control in the Ministry of Health, says the public needs to be sensitized to understand the importance of testing for malaria before getting treatment.


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The study recommends that government trains health workers about the new drug and ensure constant supply of the drug to health facilities.  Dr. Magumba says during the study some health workers blamed their failure to use the drug to limited supply.
 

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Malaria remains the number one cause of morbidity and mortality in Uganda. Until 2000, Chloroquine was the first-line drug for treatment of uncomplicated malaria in Uganda. 


Due to progressive resistance a combination of chloroquine with Sulfadoxine-Pyrimethamine was introduced. However, between 2001 and 2004, the efficacy of chloroquine with Sulfadoxine-Pyrimethamine reduced significantly, with treatment failure ranging from 22% to 77%.
 
 
In line with the WHO recommended threshold for antimalarial drug policy change, Uganda embarked on yet another policy change process that culminated in the adoption of artimesinin combination therapies as the first-line treatment for uncomplicated malaria.
 
 
In 2004, Uganda adopted the use of artimesinin combination therapies as first-line drug for treating uncomplicated malaria. According to WHO  655,000 to 1.2 million people die of malaria every year, 86% of whom are children under the age of 5.

 

About the author

Beatrice Nyangoma
Beatrice Nyangoma values her independence as a journalist. This was one of her major considerations before she became a URN staffer in 2015.

Nyangoma says, "I like URN because it gives me room to decide what stories I want to work on. That is so important to me."

The URN Jinja bureau chief since July 2016, Nyangoma considers health matters a beat close to her heart. One of the highlights of her career so far were her exclusive interviews unveiling the rot in Mulago hospital in early 2016.

Nyangoma started out writing for the Red Pepper newspaper in 2011 in her final year of university. She was majorly a health reporter. In 2012, Nyangoma moved to Top Television as a health, business reporter and weekend news editor. She was also the assistant editorial manager of Kabarole Research and Resource Centre FM (KRC FM).