Mistreatment of malaria widespread in Asia – The Times of IndiaPosted: July 25, 2012
In clinics using clinical diagnosis where malaria is rare, 99 per cent of patients with negative slides received a malaria drug and just over one in 10 (11 per cent) received an antibiotic.
This compares with clinics using newly introduced microscopy, where 37 per cent of negative patients received a malaria drug and 60 per cent received an antibiotic. In clinics with established microscopy, 51 per cent of negative patients received a malaria drug and 27 per cent received an antibiotic.
Almost all cases were due to vivax malaria, a relatively less serious form of malaria. However, only one in six cases of the rarer but potentially fatal falciparum malaria were detected and appropriately treated.
Compared with clinical diagnosis, microscopy improves the targeting of malaria drugs, but only by half, and it increases the prescription of antibiotics, said the researchers.
They argue that misdiagnosis and treatment is caused in equal part by inaccurate microscopy and by the clinicians’ tendency to treat with malaria drugs even when a test result is negative, resulting in a 40-50 per cent loss of accuracy in treatment. The results are comparable to findings from Africa, confirming that inaccurate diagnosis and treatment of malaria is a worldwide problem.