Challenges with adherence to the 'test, treat, and track' malaria case management guideline among prescribers in Ghana

Kolekang AS, Afrane Y, Apanga S, Zurovac D, Kwarteng A, Afari-Asiedu S, Asante KP, Danso-Appiah A
Malar J. 2022;21

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BACKGROUND: Despite several efforts at addressing the barriers to adherence to the WHO-supported test, treat and track (T3) malaria case management guideline in Ghana, adherence remains a challenge. This study explored the challenges of prescribers regarding adherence to the T3 guideline. METHODS: This was an explorative study using key informant interviews amongst prescribers comprising medical doctors, physician assistants, nurses and a health extension worker from 16 health facilities in six districts in Ghana. The data was analysed using Nvivo 10 and organized into thematic areas. RESULTS: Prescribers lauded the guideline on testing and treatment as it ensures the quality of malaria case management, but irregular supply of malaria rapid diagnostic test kits (RDT), mistrust of laboratory tests, and the reluctance of prescribers to change from presumptive treatment were key barriers to testing. Patients with malaria test negative results if not treated, revisiting the facility with severe malaria, the experience of prescribers, lack of regular training and supervision for old and new staff and the inability of prescribers to investigate non-malaria fever hindered adherence to results-based treatment. CONCLUSION: As malaria remains a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in Ghana, this study provides insights on gaps in adherence to the testing and treatment of malaria. While the diagnostic capacity for malaria case management is a challenge, the lack of training resulting in the inability of some prescribers to investigate non-malaria fever hinders adherence to the malaria case management guideline. Therefore, there is a need to train new prescribers, laboratory personnel, and other staff involved in malaria diagnosis and treatment on the malaria case management guideline before they assume duty. Equipping laboratory personnel and prescribers with the knowledge to investigate non-malaria fevers could improve adherence to the guideline for improved patient care.