In 2006, the Senegalese National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) has recommended artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) as the first-line treatment for uncomplicated malaria and, in 2007, mandated testing for all suspected cases of malaria with a Plasmodium falciparum HRP-2-based rapid diagnostic test for malaria (RDT(Paracheck). Given the higher cost of ACT compared to earlier anti-malarials, the objectives of the present study were i) to study the accuracy of Paracheck compared to the thick blood smear (TBS) in two areas with different levels of malaria endemicity and ii) analyse the cost-effectiveness of the strategy of the parasitological confirmation of clinically suspected malaria cases management recommended by the NMCP.
A cross-sectional study was undertaken in the villages of Dielmo and Ndiop (Senegal) nested in a cohort study of about 800 inhabitants. For all the individuals consulting between October 2008 and January 2009 with a clinical diagnosis of malaria, a questionnaire was filled and finger-prick blood samples were taken both for microscopic examination and RDT. The estimated costs and cost-effectiveness analysis were made considering five scenarios, the recommendations of the NMCP being the reference scenario. In addition, a sensitivity analysis was performed assuming that all the RDT-positive patients and 50% of RDT-negative patients were treated with ACT.
A total of 189 consultations for clinically suspected malaria occurred during the study period. The sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values were respectively 100%, 98.3%, 80.0% and 100%. The estimated cost of the reference scenario was close to 700 euros per 1000 episodes of illness, approximately twice as expensive as most of the other scenarios. Nevertheless, it appeared to us cost-effective while ensuring the diagnosis and the treatment of 100% of malaria attacks and an adequate management of 98.4% of episodes of illness. The present study also demonstrated that full compliance of health care providers with RDT results was required in order to avoid severe incremental costs.
A rational use of ACT requires laboratory testing of all patients presenting with presumed malaria. Use of RDTs inevitably has incremental costs, but the strategy associating RDT use for all clinically suspected malaria and prescribing ACT only to patients tested positive is cost-effective in areas where microscopy is unavailable.
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"With 50% specificity for the Paracheck® test, about half of the children with a positive RDT result had a negative blood slide. This high proportion may be related to the well-known limitation of Pf HRP-2 tests which detect persistent HRP-2 antigenicity in the bloodstream for a few weeks after previous infections
[17,25,31]. In addition, RDTs are known to detect low parasite densities (<100/μL)
 which may not be detected by microscopy
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Over the past ten years, Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDT) played a major role in improving the use of biological malaria diagnosis, in particular in poor-resources settings. In Burkina Faso, a recent Demography and Health Survey (DHS) gave the opportunity to assess the performance of the Paracheck(R) test in under five children nationwide at community level.
A national representative sample of 14,947 households was selected using a stratified two-stage cluster sampling. In one out of two households, all under five children were eligible to be tested for malaria using both RDT and microscopy diagnosis. Paracheck(R) performance was assessed using miscroscopy as the gold standard. Sensitivity and specificity were calculated as well as the diagnosis accuracy (DA) and the Youden index.
The malaria infection prevalence was estimated at 66% (95% CI: 64.8-67.2) according to microscopy and at 76.2% (95% CI: 75.1-77.3) according to Paracheck(R). The sensitivity and specificity were estimated at 89.9% (95% CI: 89.0-90.8) and 50.4% (95% CI: 48.3-52.6) respectively with a Diagnosis Accuracy of 77% and a Youden index of 40%. The positive predictive value for malaria infection was 77.9% (95% CI: 76.7-79.1) and the negative predictive value was 72.1% (95% CI: 69.7-74.3). Variations were found by age group, period of the year and urban and rural areas, as well as across the 13 regions of the country.
While the sensitivity of the Paracheck(R) test was high, its specificity was poor in the general under five population of Burkina Faso. These results suggest that Paracheck(R) is not suitable to assess malaria infection prevalence at community level in areas with high malaria transmission. In such settings, malaria prevalence in the general population could be estimated using microscopy.
"In 2006, the Senegalese National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) scaled up the use of malaria RDTs at all health facilities in Senegal for case management  with the ultimate goal being to treat all (and only) true malaria infections, as misdiagnosis of malaria can contribute to drug resistance . The number of RDTs currently used in Senegal is between 900,000 and 1,200,000 annually . "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Senegalese National Malaria Control Programme has recommended use of rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) that target the histidine-rich protein 2 (HRP2), specific to Plasmodium falciparum, to diagnose malaria cases. The target antigen has been shown to be polymorphic, which may explain the variability in HRP2-based RDT results reported in field studies. The genetic diversity of the pfhrp2 gene has not been investigated in depth in many African countries. The goal of this study is to determine the extent of polymorphism in pfhrp2 among Senegal, Mali and Uganda parasite populations, and discuss the implications of these findings on the utility of RDTs that are based on HRP2 detection.
Sequencing data from the pfhrp2 locus were used to analyze the genetic diversity of this gene among three populations, with different transmission dynamics and malaria parasite ecologies. Nucleotide diversity (pi) and non-synonymous nucleotide diversity (piNS) were studied in the pfhrp2 gene from isolates obtained in Senegal. Amino acid repeat length polymorphisms in the PfHRP2 antigen were characterized and parameters of genetic diversity, such as frequency and correlation between repeats in these populations, were assessed.
The diversity survey of the pfhrp2 gene identified 29 SNPs as well as insertion and deletion polymorphisms within a 918 bp region. The Senegal pfhrp2 exhibited a substantial level of diversity [pi = 0.00559 and piNS = 0.014111 (piS = 0.0291627)], similar to several polymorphic genes, such as msp1, involved in immune responses, and the gene encoding the SURFIN polymorphic antigen, which are surface exposed parasite proteins. Extensive repeat length polymorphisms in PfHRP2, as well as similar patterns in the number, organization and the type of predicted amino acid repeats were observed among the three populations, characterized by an occurrence of Type 2, Type 4 and Type 7 repeats.
These results warrant deeper monitoring of the RDT target antigen diversity and emphasize that development of other essential genes as a target for diagnostic tools is critical.
"Difference was only statistically significant when comparison was done between zero to <5 years and both 10 to 14 and ≥15 years age groups. Previous studies showed that recently treated infections may lead to false-positive results
[3,6-8]. The delayed clearance and persistence of HRP-2 antigen in the blood, even after complete eradication of parasites, can limit the utility of the test
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) are immune chromatographic tests targeting antigens of one or more Plasmodium species and offer the potential to extend accurate malaria diagnosis in endemic areas. In this study, the performance of Plasmodium falciparum-specific histidine-rich protein-2 (PfHRP-2) RDT in the detection of asymptomatic carriers from a hyperendemic region of Burkina Faso was compared with microscopy to gain further insight on its relevance in community-based interventions.
The performance of HRP-2 test was evaluated in terms of sensitivity, specificity, positive, and negative predictive values, discordant values, likelihood ratios, accuracy, and precision using microscopy as the 'gold standard'. This analysis was carried out in a controlled, parallel, cluster-randomized (18 clusters; 1:1) study in children and adults. The effect of systematic treatment of P. falciparum asymptomatic carriers during three consecutive monthly community screening campaigns on the incidence of symptomatic malaria episodes over a 12-month period was compared with no treatment of asymptomatic carriers.
Sensitivity of HRP-2 test in asymptomatic carriers was higher in campaign 1 (92.4%) when compared to campaign 2 (84.0%) and campaign 3 (77.8%). The sensitivity of HRP-2 test increased as parasite density increased across all the age groups. Highest sensitivity (>=97.0%) was recorded at parasite densities of 1,000-4,999/mul, except for children aged 10 to 14 years. The specificity of HRP-2 test was comparable across age groups and highest in campaign 3 (95.9%). The negative predictive values were high across the three campaigns (>=92.7%) while the positive predictive values ranged from 23.2 to 73.8%. False-positive and false-negative rates were high in campaign 1 and campaign 3, respectively.
The performance of HRP-2 test in detecting asymptomatic carriers of P. falciparum varied by age and parasite density. Although the use of HRP-2 test is beneficial for the diagnosis of acute malaria, its low sensitivity in screening asymptomatic carriers may limit its utility in pre-elimination interventional settings. The use of a practical and more sensitive test such as loop-mediated isothermal amplification in combination with cost effective HRP-2 test may be worth exploring in such setting.