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Malawi Medical Journal
College of Medicine, University of Malawi and Medical Association of Malawi
ISSN: 1995-7262
Vol. 21, No. 2, 2009, pp. 59-61
Bioline Code: mm09014
Full paper language: English
Document type: Research Article
Document available free of charge

Malawi Medical Journal, Vol. 21, No. 2, 2009, pp. 59-61

 en A pilot study to evaluate the diagnostic accuracy of local terminology for malaria screening among children in rural Malawi
Bisika, Thomas


Background Malaria is a serious health problem in Malawi. It is responsible for 43% of all out patient visits and 19% of all deaths occurring to children under five years of age. Rapid diagnosis and appropriate treatment can avert most malaria deaths. However this is not always possible in resource limited settings where functioning laboratories are almost nonexistent.
Methods This paper assesses the accuracy of local terminology in detecting parasitemia in children using blood smears as the reference standard.
Results The study observes that there are local terms that can be used as an inexpensive, readily available and easily implementable malaria screening test in Malawian children in rural areas. These terms include “malungo” (official name for malaria), “kutentha thupi” (hot body), “kutsegula m’mimba” (official term for diarrhoea) and “kukhosomola” (coughing). The local terms “malungo” and “kutentha thupi” yielded better results.
Conclusion Although the local terminology produced results that are less than optimal, the study concludes that the knowledge of sensitivity and specificity of local terminology can be used by local healthcare practitioners to identify children who could benefit from malaria confirmation testing and presumptive treatment. The study, however, cautions that these terms should be used as an entry point to malaria case management as they do not distinguish the severity of the malaria infection and all of them produced a sensitivity of less than 50%.

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