BACKGROUND: Early diagnosis of suspected malaria cases with a rapid diagnostic test (RDT) has been shown to be an effective malaria control tool used in many resource-constrained settings. However, poor quality control and quality assurance hinder the accurate reporting of malaria diagnoses. Recent use of a portable, battery operated RDT reader (Deki Reader™, Fio Corporation) has shown to have high agreement with visual inspection across diverse health centre settings, however evidence of its feasibility and usability during cross sectional surveys are limited. This study aimed to evaluate the performance of the Deki Reader™ in a cross-sectional survey of children from southwestern Uganda.
METHODS: A two-stage, stratified cluster sampling survey was conducted between July and October 2014 in three districts of southwestern Uganda, with varying malaria transmission intensities. A total of 566 children aged 6-59 months were included in the analysis. Blood samples were collected and tested for malaria using: the SD Bioline Malaria Ag Pf/Pan RDT and microscopy. Results were compared between visual inspection of the RDT and by the Deki Reader™. Diagnostic performance of both methods were compared to gold-standard microscopy.
RESULTS: The sensitivity and specificity of the Deki Reader™ was 94.1% (95% CI 69.2-99.6%) and 95.6% (95% CI 93.4-97.1%), respectively. The overall percent agreement between the Deki Reader™ and visual RDT inspection was 98.9% (95% CI 93.2-99.8), with kappa statistic of 0.92 (95% CI 0.85-0.98).
CONCLUSIONS: The findings from this study suggest that the Deki Reader™ is comparable to visual inspection and performs well in detecting microscopy-positive Plasmodium falciparum cases in a household survey setting. However, the reader's performance was highly dependent on ensuring adequate battery life and a work environment free of dirt particles.