Interactive guide for high-quality malaria RDT selection
It is estimated that over 312 million malaria1 rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) are distributed annually around the world. There are more than 200 different products available on the market, coming from more than 60 manufacturers, with a wide range of characteristics, prices and quality. To help health ministries, malaria control programmes and other users to navigate the maze of available products, FIND maintains an interactive guide online (link below) that helps users to easily search a database of quality-assured malaria RDTs to identify the products that meet their needs.
Search results list only RDTs that have been evaluated by the WHO-FIND product testing programme. The database has been updated with the results of the most recent round of RDT product quality evaluations (Round 7). Users can select desired criteria related to product performance (panel detection scores, false positive rates), robustness (invalid rates, heat stability), test characteristics (detection of a particular species of malaria parasite), and even functional aspects such as volumes of blood and buffer, reading times, test format, etc. The most important search parameters are the panel detection scores, the false positive rates and the invalid rates since these form the basis for the WHO recommendation criteria for RDT procurement. By default, the interactive guide sets those values at the minimum required quality standard recommended by WHO.
In early 2016, some new features were added to the interactive guide to enable users to search the database using a wider range of product characteristics. For example, the guide now indicates whether a product has been prequalified by the WHO Prequalification of Diagnostics Programme.
Another feature allows users to filter products by ‘Protocol Group’, which refers to a particular set of RDT characteristics, namely blood volume, buffer volume and reading time required by an RDT. These characteristics may vary by product. If a national malaria control programme decides to switch to a new RDT product, for example because a brand is not available anymore, it is important to retain the same or similar protocol characteristics in the new RDT. This minimizes changes to the test procedure and results interpretation, and facilitates re-training of health workers, thus reducing the risk of user errors.
An additional feature is the inclusion of RDT heat stability data based on P. vivax samples, implemented for the first time in Round 6 of product evaluation. Before Round 6, RDT heat stability was only tested against P. falciparum samples.
1World Malaria Report 2017, World Health Organization