Prescribing patterns and compliance with World Health Organization recommendations for the management of severe malaria: a modified cohort event monitoring study in public health facilities in Ghana and Uganda.

08 Feb 2019
Ampadu HH, Asante KP, Bosomprah S, Akakpo S, Hugo P, Gardarsdottir H, Leufkens HGM, Kajungu D, Dodoo ANO


Injectable artesunate (AS) is the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended medication for the treatment of severe malaria followed with an oral artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT). There are few studies indicating how physicians prescribe injectable AS, injectable quinine (Q) or injectable artemether (AR) and ACT for severe malaria. This study was undertaken to evaluate prescription compliance to the WHO recommendation in 8 public health facilities in Ghana and Uganda. This was a modified cohort event monitoring study involving patients who were administered with injectable anti-malarial for treatment of presumed or confirmed severe malaria. Patients prescribed at least one dose of injectable artesunate, artemether or quinine qualified to enrol in the study. Patients were recruited at inpatient facilities and followed up in the hospital, by phone or at home. Following WHO recommendations, patients are to be prescribed 3 doses of injectable AS, Q or AR for at least 24 h followed with oral ACT. Compliance rate was estimated as the number of patient prescriptions that met the WHO recommendation for treatment of severe malaria divided by the total number of patients who completed the study by end of follow up. Log-binomial regression model was used to identify predictors for compliance. Based on the literature and limitations of available data from the patients' record, the diagnosis results, age, gender, weight, and country were considered as potential predictors of prescriber adherence to the WHO recommendations.


A total of 1191 patients completed the study, of which 93% were prescribed injectable AS, 3.1% (injectable AR or Q) with 32.5% prescribed follow-on oral ACT and 26% on concomitant antibiotics. 391 (32.8%) were in Ghana and 800 (67.2%) in Uganda. There were 582 (48.9%) women. The median age was 3.9 years (IQR = 2, 9) and median weight was 13 kg (IQR = 10, 20). Of the 1191 patients, 329 of the prescriptions complied with the WHO recommendation (compliance rate = 27.6%; 95% CI = [25.2, 30.2]). Diagnostic results (Adjusted prevalence ratio (aPR) = 4.56; 95% = [3.42, 6.08]; p < 0.0001) and weight (20 + kg vs < 10 kg: aPR = 0.65; 95% = [0.44, 0.96]; p = 0.015) were identified as factors independently associated with compliance.


Injectable AS is the most commonly prescribed medicine in the management of severe malaria in Ghana and Uganda. However, adherence to the WHO recommendation of at least 3 doses of injectable anti-malarial in 24 h followed by a full course of ACT is low, at less than 30%.