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01.12.2012 | Research | Ausgabe 1/2012 Open Access

Malaria Journal 1/2012

Malaria case management in Papua New Guinea prior to the introduction of a revised treatment protocol

Malaria Journal > Ausgabe 1/2012
Justin Pulford, Ivo Mueller, Peter M Siba, Manuel W Hetzel
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests

Authors’ contributions

JP coordinated data collection, conducted the data analysis and drafted the manuscript. MWH, PMS, IM designed the study and critically revised the manuscript. All authors’ read and approved the final manuscript.



This study aimed to document malaria case management practices in Papua New Guinea prior to the introduction of a revised national malaria treatment protocol. The revised protocol stipulates routine testing of malaria infection by rapid diagnostic test or microscopy, anti-malarial prescription to test positive cases only, and the introduction of a new artemisinin-based first-line anti-malarial. Findings presented in this paper primarily focus on diagnostic, prescription and treatment counselling practices.


In a national cross-sectional survey of 79 randomly selected health facilities, data were collected via non-participant observation of the clinical case management of patients presenting with fever or a recent history of fever. Data were recorded on a structured clinical observation instrument.


Overall, 15% of observed fever patients (n = 468) were tested for malaria infection by rapid diagnostic test and a further 3.6% were tested via microscopy. An anti-malarial prescription was made in 96.4% (451/468) of cases, including 100% (17/17) of test positive cases and 82% (41/50) of test negative cases. In all, 79.8% of anti-malarial prescriptions conformed to the treatment protocol current at the time of data collection. The purpose of the prescribed medication was explained to patients in 63.4% of cases, dosage/regimen instructions were provided in 75.7% of cases and the possibility of adverse effects and what they might look like were discussed in only 1.1% of cases.


The revised national malaria treatment protocol will require a substantial change in current clinical practice if it is to be correctly implemented and adhered to. Areas that will require the most change include the shift from presumptive to RDT/microscopy confirmed diagnosis, prescribing (or rather non-prescribing) of anti-malarials to patients who test negative for malaria infection, and the provision of thorough treatment counselling. A comprehensive clinician support programme, possibly inclusive of ‘booster’ training opportunities and regular clinical supervision will be needed to support the change.
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