Many more rapid malaria tests meet internationl recommendations

  • Countries have greater choice for quality tests

Geneva, Switzerland – 12 October 2011 – Today’s release of the third round of the World Health Organization’s evaluation of rapid diagnostic tests for malaria shows substantial improvement in test performance. Twenty-three out of the total of 50 commercial tests were previously evaluated and of these, nearly all show either maintenance of excellent performance or substantial improvements. Product testing helps buyers, like national governments, choose which products to purchase. Tens of millions of tests are sold annually, so it is a major incentive for manufacturers to meet the international performance recommendations based on the results of this evaluation programme.

Malaria rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) allow programmes to quickly identify which patients have the disease and need immediate treatment, putting into action WHO recommendations to confirm the diagnosis of malaria before treatment. This is particularly important throughout sub-Saharan Africa, where 95% of the population is at risk.

“These results illustrate the ground-breaking impact this programme is having on product quality,” said Dr Robert Newman, Director of WHO’s Global Malaria Programme. “Furthermore, our recent market surveys show a major shift in the market towards better performing tests being sold for public sector use.”

The Malaria RDT Product Testing Programme has now conducted a total of 120 test evaluations, finding that 35 of them meet WHO’s most stringent RDT selection criteria. This gives malaria-endemic countries and donors a wider choice of tests which have been assessed for quality and reliability and helps developing countries purchase good quality diagnostics through negotiated lower rates via WHO, UNICEF and the major international funding agencies, which base their procurement decisions on this type of evaluation.

The evaluation programme is co-sponsored by the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) and the WHO Global Malaria Programme (GMP). Testing is performed at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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