Communicable Diseases Module: 7. Diagnosis of Malaria

Study Session 7  Diagnosis of Malaria


In this study session you will learn about two different methods used to identify malaria parasites in patients (parasite-based tests). But first you will need to make a clinical or ‘presumptive’ diagnosis of malaria, based on recognising the most common signs and symptoms of the disease, including severe malaria.

The most important malaria diagnostic method used at the community level is the rapid diagnostic test (RDT) for malaria. RDTs provide a quick way to tell whether a person with malaria-like symptoms actually has malaria, as the test takes only 15–20 minutes. The RDT detects certain chemicals in the blood that are produced by malaria parasites if they are present. In this study session you will learn how to use the RDT kit for malaria, including the precautions you must take when performing an RDT, and how to interpret the results.

Finally, we will briefly describe how malaria can be diagnosed using microscopic techniques to detect the presence of parasites in blood smears. You are not expected to use a microscope for diagnosis, but it is useful for you to know what is involved in microscopic diagnosis, which is done at health centres and hospitals.

Learning Outcomes for Study Session 7