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MOH Recommends Use of High Sensitivity RDT in Detecting Malaria in Asymptomatic Pregnant Women

Dr. Daniel Kyabayinze the Deputy Manager of the Malaria Control Programme said generally they found 50% more malaria cases in the community when they gave the high sensitivity test to Village Health Teams (VHTs) than when they used the common tests.

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The Ministry of Health is recommending the use of High Sensitivity Rapid Diagnostic Tests (HS – RDTs) after they found in a study that the test is more effective than the commonly available RDTs in detecting malaria in especially the asymptomatic cases.

 Releasing their mid-term progress report dubbed, “Enhancing Laboratory Capacity to Combat HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria on Friday, the Ministry revealed that they conducted a study in Mpigi district where 21.1 % of 3,490 pregnant women tested positive for malaria even as they reported using mosquito nets and the malaria prevention medication given in antenatal care. 

Dr Daniel Kyabayinze the Deputy Manager of the Malaria Control Programme said generally they found 50% more malaria cases in the community when they gave the high sensitivity test to Village Health Teams (VHTs) than when they used the common tests. 

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For the people that tested positive for malaria at the Outpatient departments of health facilities Kyabayinze says, Village Health Teams were assigned to follow them to their homes where they found for every five people, one unknowingly had malaria. 

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He says people who get malaria and remain undetected are a risk to the malaria response since they remain reservoirs and continue spreading infection. 

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The Ministry also tested their capacity in detecting Tuberculosis (TB) and HIV where they sent trained field support staff that covered more than 1,700 healthcare facilities countrywide including Health Centers III and IV and District, Regional Referral and National Referral Hospitals.

In TB for example, Dr Stavia Turyahabwe who heads the TB and Leprosy programme says that they deployed a new urine testing technology dubbed Abbott’s Determine TB LAM rapid point of care test in which they were testing TB in people living with HIV.

They recorded a 42% increase in the number of people diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB) yet without the use of this test, almost half of TB cases would have been missed.

Commenting on the report, Health Minister Dr Jane Ruth Aceng said that there were substantial improvements in Uganda’s diagnostic services infrastructure in 2018 and 2019 including the deployment of point-of-care (POC) diagnostics and increased mentorship and technical support for laboratory staff which resulted in improvement in treatment outcomes for people.

She however notes that during the two years of the diagnostics check, they realized there is a lot of wastage since they were also tracking commodities to see whether they are serviced or not.

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