Background: Malaria remains endemic in Solomon Islands, but data on malaria in the provinces of Solomon Islands are limited. This study from Makira-Ulawa Province aimed to identify the most prevalent strain of malaria and assess if the available rapid diagnostic test (RDT) was effective in Kirakira Hospital.
Methods: Forty-five patients who presented to Kirakira Hospital with symptoms of fever had a positive malaria parasite smear during a 4-week period in 2017. The parasite count for each smear was calculated. Simultaneous testing using the CareStart Malaria HRP2/pLDH (Pf/pan) Combo RDT was conducted. The data for all malaria parasite smears performed in Makira-Ulawa Province in 2016 were collated for comparison.
Results: All 45 patients diagnosed with malaria in a 4-week period in 2017 were positive for Plasmodium vivax. The median parasite load was 280 parasites per μL (range, 160 to 640 parasites per μL). None of the 45 CareStart RDTs performed was positive. In 2016, 5,505 of 17,195 patients (32.0%) screened had malaria parasites detected on a malaria parasite smear. P vivax was detected in 5,212 (94.7%) and Plasmodium falciparum in 285 (5.2%) of patients with malaria.
Conclusion: P vivax is the predominant strain of malaria present in Makira-Ulawa Province. RDTs were not helpful in the diagnosis of malaria at Kirakira Hospital. The parasite load detected in the 45 patients diagnosed with malaria in this study was low. A focus on attempting to eradicate P vivax in the community through improved compliance with treatment protocols is suggested as a possible way forward to best manage malaria in Makira-Ulawa Province.