The problem, the consequences, and rapid testing solutions
Malaria is a preventable and treatable infectious disease transmitted by mosquitoes that killed more than 627,000 people in 2020, with sub-Saharan Africa accounting for 93% of global deaths.1 Children under five accounted for 80% of all deaths in the region.1
Because malaria is a global crisis that affects mostly poor women and children, malaria perpetuates a vicious cycle of poverty in the developing world. Malaria-related illnesses and mortality cost Africa’s economy alone USD 12 billion per year and reduces GDP growth by 1.3 percent annually.2
While progress has been made against the spread of malaria in Asia and the Americas, it has stalled in sub-Saharan Africa since 2015 for several complex reasons: (1) More people in sub-Saharan Africa live in areas of risk of malaria, (2) funding has plateaued in the countries of this region, (3) coverage of vector control interventions has flattened or declined, and (4) access to quality care is inadequate.3
Additionally, asymptomatic Plasmodium carriage in low transmission settings has been suggested to be responsible for 20–50% of all malaria transmission in those settings.4
Vector control offers an important strategy to control disease transmission and to prevent infection.1 Two important components of vector control are insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) and indoor residual spraying (IRS).1 However, progress in global malaria control is threatened by emerging resistance to insecticides among certain mosquito species such as Anopheles. The latest World Malaria Report states that 78 countries have reported mosquito resistance to at least 1 of the 4 commonly-used insecticide classes in the period 2010–2019. Furthermore, mosquito resistance was reported to all main insecticide classes in 29 countries.1
Before the administration of malaria treatment, WHO recommended prompt parasite-based diagnosis in all patients suspected of malaria. Rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) can significantly improve the quality of management of malaria infections, especially in remote areas that lack high quality microscopy services. RDTs allow for the diagnosis of malaria at the community level and are relatively simple to perform and interpret, provide fast results, and only require limited training.5 RDT use has been significantly expanded in recent years around the world. According to manufacturers surveyed for the World Malaria Report 2021, 3.1 billion malaria RDTs were sold in 2010–2020, with nearly 81% of these sales being to sub- Saharan Africa. Additionally, 2.2 billion RDTs were distributed through national malaria programmes, of which 88% were in sub-Saharan Africa.5
The availability of high-quality, inexpensive RDTs has made it possible to significantly improve and expand diagnostic testing across all levels of the health system, from district hospitals to community-based programs.5
Our malaria rapid tests are some of the most widely used malaria RDTs in the world. Based on the outstanding quality performance, Bioline Malaria Ag P.f. was the first test in the world to complete the WHO prequalification process, the BinaxNOW® Malaria test was the first FDA-cleared Malaria RDT and the NxTek™Eliminate Malaria Pf test is able to detect people with low parasitemia.
- World Health Organization: Malaria - Key Facts. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/malaria. Accessed on 10/31/2022.
- USAID: Malaria Burden. https://pmivectorlink.org/about/malaria-burden/. Accessed on 10/31/2022.
- Noor AM, Alonso PL. The message on malaria is clear: progress has stalled. Lancet. 2022 May 7;399(10337):1777. doi: 10.1016/S0140- 6736(22)00732-2
- Okell LC, Bousema T, Griffin JT, Ouédraogo AL, Ghani AC, Drakeley CJ. Factors determining the occurrence of submicroscopic malaria infections and their relevance for control. Nat Commun. 2012;3:1237. doi: 10.1038/ncomms2241.
- World Health Organization: Global Malaria Program - Rapid Diagnostic Tests. https://www.who.int/teams/global-malaria-programme/case-management/diagnosis/rapid-diagnostic-tests. Accessed on 10/31/2022.