Acute fever is one of the most common causes of visits to health-care facilities in low- and middle-income countries – to the tune of 182 million cases per year in sub-Saharan Africa alone.
Until recently, malaria was considered to be the predominant cause of fever in endemic countries. Thanks to the increased use of malaria rapid diagnostic tests, we now know that less than half of these fevers are caused by malaria parasites.
In the absence of adequate diagnostic tests for other common causes of fever, people are often treated with antibiotics. When used inappropriately, the result can be that serious diseases are not treated properly, sometimes with fatal consequences. In addition, the inappropriate use of antibiotics is contributing to the development of antimicrobial resistance.
Some fevers are symptoms of infectious diseases with outbreak potential. Prompt diagnosis can help to halt outbreaks by ensuring that people quickly get the right treatment and care, which also stops the cycle of transmission. As a result, diagnostic readiness is a key part of outbreak preparedness.
The urgent need for new diagnostic tests to guide appropriate treatment has been identified as an R&D priority by global stakeholders, including the World Health Organization, the UK Review on Antimicrobial Resistance and others.
FIND is working with partners to provide guidance for the development of affordable and appropriate new tests that meet the needs of lower-income countries.
- WWARN‘s non-malarial febrile illness (NMFI) disease maps.