Volume 102, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



Ethiopia aims to diagnose and treat all clinical malaria within 24 hours of fever onset in its stride to eliminate the disease by 2030. Microscopy remains to be the mainstay for diagnosis at the health center and hospital level. Continuous evaluation and performance upgrading of malaria microscopists is one of the cornerstones in this effort. We assessed the performance of malaria microscopists compared with reference readers in diagnosing, identifying the species, and quantifying parasitemia. A total of 174 microscopists were enrolled from health facilities located in 86 districts in Oromia region (Ethiopia) from January 2017 to June 2018. Panel slides with known species, diagnostic blood stage, and parasite density were prepared by the reference readers. Sociodemographics, education, in-service training, and routine practice of participants were captured. Sensitivity, specificity, percent agreement, and kappa score were calculated. An overall low performance was observed that could threaten the malaria diagnostic service. Of all the slides distributed (1,218), only 17.0% of the positive and 30.0% of the negative slides were correctly identified and 22.4% were correctly quantified. Compared with the reference readers, participants had lower competence in diagnosing (74.3% agreement and kappa 0.45) and identifying the species (71.2% agreement and kappa 0.40). Two-fifths of the participants were graded as “in training” with respect to identifying the species (41.0%) and the diagnostic stages (40.0%). An in-service training/retraining and supportive supervision are needed to raise and maintain the competence of microscopists in settings with a recent decline in malaria transmission and aiming for ultimate elimination of the disease.


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Supplemental files and appendix

  • Received : 04 Feb 2019
  • Accepted : 31 Aug 2019
  • Published online : 11 Nov 2019
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