External quality assessment on the use of malaria rapid diagnostic tests in a non-endemic setting

P Gillet, P Mukadi, K Vernelen, M Van Esbroeck, JJ Muyembe, C Bruggeman, J Jacobs

    Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-article

    Abstract

    BACKGROUND: Malaria rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) are increasingly used as a tool for the diagnosis of malaria, both in endemic and in non-endemic settings. The present study reports the results of an external quality assessment (EQA) session on RDTs in a non-endemic setting. METHODS: After validation of antigen stability during shipment at room temperature, three clinical samples and a questionnaire were sent to clinical laboratories in Belgium and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg using malaria RDTs. Participants were asked to report the results of the RDTs as observations (visibility of the RDT control and test lines) and interpretations (report as formulated to the clinician). In addition, participants were invited to fill in a questionnaire on the place of RDTs in the diagnostic strategy of malaria. RESULTS: A total of 128/133 (96.2%) of clinical laboratories using RDTs participated. Six three-band and one four-band RDT brands were used. Analytical errors were rare and included (i) not recognizing invalid RDT results (1.6%) and (ii) missing the diagnosis of Plasmodium falciparum (0.8%). Minor errors were related to RDT test result interpretation and included (i) reporting 'RDT positive' without species identification in the case of P. falciparum and non-falciparum species (16.9% and 6.5% respectively) and (ii) adding incorrect comments to the report (3.2%). Some of these errors were related to incorrect RDT package insert instructions such as (i) not reporting the possibility of mixed species infection in the case of P. falciparum and Plasmodium vivax (35.5% and 18.5% respectively) and (ii) the interpretation of P. vivax instead of non-falciparum species at the presence of a pan-species antigen line (4.0%). According to the questionnaire, 48.8% of participants processed [less than or equal to] 20 requests for malaria diagnosis in 2009. During opening hours, 93.6% of 125 participants used RDTs as an adjunct to microscopy but outside opening hours, nearly one third of 113 participants relied on RDTs as the primary (4.4%) or the single tool (25.7%) for malaria diagnosis. CONCLUSION: In this non-endemic setting, errors in RDT performance were mainly related to RDT test line interpretations, partly due to incorrect package insert instructions. The reliance on RDTs as the primary or the single tool for the diagnosis of malaria outside opening hours is of concern and should be avoided.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalMalaria Journal
    Volume9
    Pages (from-to)359
    Number of pages11
    ISSN1475-2875
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2010

    Keywords

    • B780-tropical-medicine
    • Protozoal diseases
    • Malaria
    • Plasmodium falciparum
    • Vectors
    • Mosquitoes
    • Diagnosis
    • Rapid diagnostic tests
    • Quality assessment
    • Laboratories
    • Performance
    • Analysis
    • Microscopy
    • Tools
    • Interpretation
    • Belgium
    • Luxembourg
    • Europe-West

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