Adherence to Ebola-specific malaria case management guidelines at health facilities in Guinea during the West African Ebola epidemic
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Adherence to Ebola-specific malaria case management guidelines at health facilities in Guinea during the West African Ebola epidemic

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  • Alternative Title:
    Malar J
  • Description:
    Background Malaria case management in the context of the 2014–2016 West African Ebola virus disease (EVD) epidemic was complicated by a similar initial clinical presentation of the two diseases. In September 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) released recommendations titled, “Guidance on temporary malaria control measures in Ebola-affected countries”, which aimed at reducing the risk of EVD transmission and improving malaria outcomes. This guidance recommended malaria diagnostic testing of fever cases only if adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) was available, defined as examination gloves, face shield, disposable gown, boots, and head cover; otherwise presumptive anti-malarial treatment was recommended. The extent to which health workers adhered to these guidelines in affected countries has not been assessed. Methods A cross-sectional survey was conducted in 118 health units in Guinea in November 2014 to produce a representative and probabilistic sample of health facilities and patients. Adherence to the EVD-specific malaria case management guidelines during the height of the EVD epidemic was assessed. Associations between case management practices and possible determinants were calculated using multivariate logistic regression, controlling for expected confounders and the complex sample design. Results Most (78%) facilities reported availability of examination gloves, but adequate PPE was available at only 27% of facilities. Only 28% of febrile patients received correct malaria case management per the WHO temporary malaria case management guidelines. The most common error was diagnostic testing in the absence of adequate PPE (45% of febrile patients), followed by no presumptive treatment in the absence of adequate PPE (14%). Having had a report of an EVD case at a health facility and health worker-reported participation in EVD-specific malaria trainings were associated with lower odds of diagnostic testing and higher odds of presumptive treatment. Conclusions Adherence to guidance on malaria case management in EVD-affected countries was low at the height of the EVD epidemic in Guinea, and there was substantial malaria diagnostic testing in the absence of adequate PPE, which could have contributed to increased EVD transmission in the healthcare setting. Conversely, low presumptive treatment when diagnostic tests were not performed may have led to additional morbidity and mortality among malaria positive patients. National malaria control programs may consider preparing contingency plans for future implementation of temporary changes to malaria case management guidelines to facilitate uptake by health workers. Additional training on standard and transmission-based precautions should help health workers understand how to protect themselves in the face of emerging and unknown pathogens.
  • Pubmed ID:
    29898719
  • Pubmed Central ID:
    PMC6000938
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