Snow, R.W., Zurovac, D., Tibenderana, J.K., Nankabirwa, J., Njogu, J.N., Rwakimari, J.B., Counihan, H.
Background: In Uganda, as in many other countries traditionally viewed as harbouring very high malaria transmission, the norm has been to recommend that febrile episodes are diagnosed as malaria. In this study, the policy implications of such recommendations are revisited. Methods: A cross-sectional survey was undertaken at outpatient departments of all health facilities in four Ugandan districts. The routine diagnostic practices were assessed for all patients during exit interviews and a research slide was obtained for later reading. Primary outcome measures were the accuracy of national recommendations and routine malaria diagnosis in comparison with the study definition of malaria (i.e. any parasitaemia on expert slide examination in a patient with fever), stratified by age and intensity of malaria transmission. Secondary outcome measures were the use, interpretation and accuracy of routine malaria microscopy. Results: 1763 consultations undertaken by 233 health workers at 188 facilities were evaluated. The prevalence of malaria among all newly presenting patients was 24.2%, and ranged between 13.9% in patients ≥5 years in medium-to-high transmission areas to 50.5% for children