M-RDT or Malaria Rapid Diagnostic Test is deemed the primary method of blood testing for Malaria by the WHO in Tanzania. I had the pleasure of attending a training put on by the Ministry of Health in Tanzania to train health professionals from hospitals and clinics in the Moshi District.
Why was this important? Because the Ministry of Health found that Malaria was being diagnosed in Moshi based on symptoms, not the blood test, which is the proper way to test for Malaria. This is a problem because a patient could have Malarial symptoms for a number of reasons, and if given the wrong medication or misdiagnosed, could cause serious health implications.
So, why not just use the RDT, right? Well, first all health centers must have access to the test. Second, it’s time consuming. Once the test is properly filled out and blood is tested, you have to wait about 15-20 minutes for the result. In total the testing process takes about 30 minutes to complete and diagnose, which is slightly longish, but better than an incorrect diagnosis!
How does it work? Well, I’m happy to explain! It’s rather simple- the (clean- ideally) finger is pricked and the blood is lightly placed in a designated area on the testing stick with a wand. Blood must not be spattered on the actual test or it must be redone. A solution is then placed in another section of the testing stick to make a chemical reaction- one line means malaria free, and multiple lines means- womp womp- that the patient has malaria.
The training was very informative and I learned a lot along with health professionals from the district. This training should result in more accurate testing in Moshi District. I also was the guinea pig for the group and got tested for malaria- yes, the image is my test and my name is July, and no, I do not have Malaria!