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With the distribution of more than 290 million mosquito nets in Africa between 2008 and 2010, significant progress was made towards achieving the target of universal bed net coverage for at-risk population groups. Indoor residual spraying, another highly cost-effective control intervention, has also been significantly scaled up, helping to cut malaria cases and deaths in high-transmission areas.
At the same time, however, the scale-up of diagnostic testing, treatment and surveillance has not received the same degree of attention. 1
In the past, fever was equated with malaria in many endemic countries. However, recent control efforts have significantly reduced the malaria burden – even in high transmission areas of Africa. In these countries, most fever episodes seen at health facility or community level may be therefore no longer due to malaria. The commonest cause of fever in malaria-negative children is a viral infection.2
It has become clear that continued presumptive treatment of malaria would lead to both drug wastage and under-treatment of other febrile illnesses.1
- World Health Organization (WHO) T3: Test. Treat. Track. Scaling up diagnostic testing, treatment and surveillance for malaria (2012) Available at: http://www.who.int/malaria/publications/atoz/t3_brochure/en/ Date accessed: 22 Jul 2014.
- WHO (2011. Rev. Feb 2013) Universal access to malaria diagnostic testing – An operational manual. Available at: http://www.who.int/malaria/publications/atoz/9789241502092/en/ Date accessed: 22 Jul 2014.