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Correct dosing of artemether-lumefantrine for management of uncomplicated malaria in rural Tanzania: do facility and patient characteristics matter?
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  • Description:
    Background

    Use of artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT), such as artemether-lumefantrine (AL), requires a strict dosing schedule that follows the drugs’ pharmacokinetic properties. The quality of malaria case management was assessed in two areas in rural Tanzania, to ascertain patient characteristics and facility-specific factors that influence correct dosing of AL for management of uncomplicated malaria.

    Methods

    Exit interviews were conducted with patients attending health facilities for initial illness consultation. Information about health workers’ training and supervision visits was collected. Health facilities were inventoried for capacity and availability of medical products related to care of malaria patients. The outcome was correct dosing of AL based on age and weight. Logistic regression was used to assess health facility factors and patient characteristics associated with correct dosing of AL by age and weight.

    Results

    A total of 1,531 patients were interviewed, but 60 pregnant women were excluded from the analysis. Only 503 (34.2%) patients who received AL were assessed for correct dosing. Most patients who received AL (85.3%) were seen in public health facilities, 75.7% in a dispensary and 91.1% in a facility that had AL in stock on the survey day. Overall, 92.1% (463) of AL prescriptions were correct by age or weight; but 85.7% of patients received correct dosing by weight alone and 78.5% received correct dosing by age alone. In multivariate analysis, patients in the middle dosing bands in terms of age or weight, had statistically significant lower odds of correct AL dosing (p < 0.05) compared to those in the lowest age or weight group. Other factors such as health worker supervision and training on ACT did not improve the odds of correct AL dosing.

    Conclusion

    Although malaria treatment guidelines indicate AL dosing can be prescribed based on age or weight of the patient, findings from this study show that patients within the middle age and weight dosing bands were least likely to receive a correct dose by either measure. Clinicians should be made aware of AL dosing errors for patients aged three to 12 years and advised to use weight-based prescriptions whenever possible.

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