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Divining without SeedsThe Case for Strengthening Laboratory Medicine in Africa$
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Iruka N. Okeke

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801449413

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801449413.001.0001

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Fever: Is It Malaria?

Fever: Is It Malaria?

(p.21) 2 Fever: Is It Malaria?
Divining without Seeds

Iruka N. Okeke

Cornell University Press

This chapter discusses various issues associated with the diagnosis of malaria in Africa. One of these is the practice of diagnosing malaria based on symptoms alone. Given the high prevalence of the disease, if 80 percent of fevers in a locality are actually malaria, then anyone diagnosing all fevers as malaria will be right eight out of ten times. While this outcome is fine for the lucky majority, the prognosis for patients with other infections is grim. The chapter goes on to consider diagnostic tests for malaria and three important challenges associated with their use. These are cost, test quality, and getting clinicians in endemic Africa, who have for decades been educated to believe that “fever is malaria,” to use the tests and pay heed to the results. The final section focuses the low priority given to diagnostic development and deployment for malaria control.

Keywords:   fever, infectious disease, diagnosis, Africa, diagnostic tests, malaria

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