Under IMaD, MCDI and its partners have worked to improve laboratory-based diagnosis of malaria (primarily at Ministry of Health facilities), and to increase understanding, acceptance, and correct use of microscopy and Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDTs) by laboratory staff and health care practitioners providing direct care to patients. The use of accurate and timely diagnosis in making treatment decisions is critical to making optimal use of the latest treatment options. IMaD collaborated with National Malaria Control Program staff, other donors, and appropriate partners in PMI countries to assess baseline laboratory capacity, develop training materials, train laboratory and clinical staff, improve quality control of malaria-related laboratory procedures, and adapt or develop malaria diagnostics guidelines to reflect state-of-the-art knowledge in the field. The Project Director, Luis Benavente, presented some of the key lessons learned through IMaD, highlighting:
- Outcomes of Malaria Microscopy Refresher Training (MMRT)
- Malaria Microscopy proficiency testing
- Training versus supportive supervision with feedback
- Malaria microscopy quality assurance
- RDT quality assurance as per observation
- Adherence to test results by clinicians
Luis Benavente is a physician with graduate studies in Microbiology and Epidemiology. As the Director for USAID’s flagship project on malaria diagnosis, Luis has assisted NMCP efforts to implement programs and improving the coverage and efficiency of PMI investment in malaria diagnosis and case management. He has also conducted clinical, epidemiological and operations research on infectious diseases and malaria-associated anemia, and has backstopped several maternal and child health projects, helped document behavior change (feeding practices, bednet utilization) and impact indicators such as morbidity, malarial parasitemia, anemia and mortality.