Laboratory Diagnosis of Malaria in the North West Region of Cameroon:
Analysis of Limitations and Strategies for Improvement
MSc. Human Ecology (Populations, Health/Diseases and the Environment- PHE) Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium
In collaboration with the Clinical Parasitology Department, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam
Malaria is a life-threatening infectious disease and a global public health challenge. Malaria morbidity
remains scary despite remarkable progress in controlling the disease and control measures are fragile
yet might slow (WHO/RBM, 2011). Early and accurate malaria diagnosis, in combination with proper
therapy and preventive measures, do form the cornerstone of the present programmes on malaria
control (WHO, 2008). There is a need for unprecedented action against malaria and countries are
currently scaling up malaria control activities including prompt and accurate diagnosis.
This paper is an investigation of the techniques and quality of Laboratory Diagnosis of Malaria (LDM)
in the North West Region (NWR) of Cameroon. It analyses the limitations and proposes cost-effective
strategies for improvement. The study sample was 40 laboratories in 40 governmental health facilities
(HFs), selected by level of sophistication- Hospitals, Medical Health Centers (CMAs) and Integrated
Health Centers (IHCs) and geographical location. Data was collected through pre-tested interviewer-
administered structured questionnaires and discussions.
Results showed that the diagnostic protocol and supply of laboratory equipment and materials in the
NWR are standardized. Intriguing is the loss of quality in diagnosis and the insignificant differences
that exist in the overall quality of equipment and materials in HFs regardless of sophistication.
The strategies for improvement were developed with a multi-disciplinary team including the local staff
(laboratory technicians, microscopists, managers and administrators). This was done through on-the-
spot discussion and evaluation of the study results with the local staff at each health facility visited.