The interaction of malaria with malnutrition is complex. In areas where malnutrition among children is prevalent, management of malaria is not standardized. In Burkina Faso, malaria treatment is prescribed after positive malaria rapid diagnostic test (RDT) or thick blood smears confirmation regardless of the nutritional status of the child. The study aims to assess the performance of malaria RDT in acute malnourished children under five years of age. A descriptive cross-sectional study was carried out from June 1st to August 31th 2014 in the health district of Nanoro in Burkina Faso. The study involved the children less than 5 years of age who were admitted for acute malnutrition and tested for malaria using RDT. The diagnostic values were then assessed for their agreement with the gold standard of the World Health Organization (thick blood smears) using Cohen-Kappa coefficient. In total, RDT and thick blood smear results were obtained from 131 children (aged 1-59 months). RDT was positive in 87 tested children (66.4%), while the thick smear indicated that only 47 were infected by malaria (35.9%) and Cohen kappa coefficient was 0.44. The sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value and negative predictive value of RDT for malaria compared to microscopy were respectively 100% (95% CI: 92.5 - 100), 52.4% (95% CI: 51.1 - 52.9), 54% (95% CI: 43 - 64.8), 100% (95% CI: 92.5 - 100). Their timeliness was 8 min (± 3.47 min). Using malaria RDT in acutely malnourished children results in high number of false positive.
Key words: Performance, sensitivity, specificity, acute malnutrition, rapid diagnostic test, thick blood smear, Burkina Faso.
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