Study Finds Malaria Control Scale-Up Benefits Health Systems

An HFG study published in the Malaria Journal investigates the association between malaria control scale-up and the use of pediatric blood transfusions, which can reduce mortality among children with severe malarial anemia. In “Association Between Malaria Control and Paediatric Blood Transfusions in Rural Zambia: an Interrupted Time-Series Analysis,” an HFG research team led by Alison Comfort explores the extent to which the use of pediatric blood transfusions is affected by the number of pediatric malaria visits and admissions. The study aims to better understand the effect of malaria control scale-up on availability of hospital-level resources, specifically blood, which can be used by patients with other conditions.

Using data from facility and patient records covering all pediatric malaria admissions from 2000 to 2008 at a referral hospital in rural Zambia, the study found a one-to-one relationship between the number of pediatric admissions for severe malarial anemia and the number of pediatric blood transfusions given. During the 2004-2006 malaria control period, there was a 50% reduction in the use of pediatric blood transfusions relative to the previous period when malaria control was relatively limited. During the 2007-2008 period, use of pediatric blood transfusions fell by 72% compared to the period with limited malaria control. Findings suggest that malaria control scale-up affects pediatric blood transfusion numbers by reducing pediatric admissions for severe malarial anemia, potentially benefiting other areas of the health system through greater blood availability, particularly where blood supply is limited.

The study partners included the President’s Malaria Initiative, the Centers for Disease Control, and Macha Mission Hospital in Zambia. The Zambia Integrated Systems Strengthening Project (ZISSP) also provided input.

Related study – Hospitalizations and Costs Incurred at the Facility Level after Scale-up of Malaria Control: Pre-Post Comparisons from Two Hospitals in Zambia

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