1 Parasitology and Aquatic Diseases, Department of Veterinary Disease Biology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Københavns Universitet2 London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine3 Centre for Infections, Health Protection Agency4 Ministry of Health5 London Schoool of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine6 Parasitology and Aquatic Diseases, Department of Veterinary Disease Biology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Københavns Universitet
In Uganda, as in many parts of Africa, the majority of the population seek treatment for malaria in drug shops as their first point of care; however, parasitological diagnosis is not usually offered in these outlets. Rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) for malaria have attracted interest in recent years as a tool to improve malaria diagnosis, since they have proved accurate and easy to perform with minimal training. Although RDTs could feasibly be performed by drug shop vendors, it is not known how much customers would be willing to pay for an RDT if offered in these settings. We conducted a contingent valuation survey among drug shop customers in Mukono District, Uganda. Exit interviews were undertaken with customers aged 15 years and above after leaving a drug shop having purchased an antimalarial and/or paracetamol. The bidding game technique was used to elicit the willingness-to-pay (WTP) for an RDT and a course of artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) with and without RDT confirmation. Factors associated with WTP were investigated using linear regression. The geometric mean WTP for an RDT was US$0.53, US$1.82 for a course of ACT and US$2.05 for a course of ACT after a positive RDT. Factors strongly associated with a higher WTP for these commodities included having a higher socio-economic status, no fever/malaria in the household in the past 2 weeks and if a malaria diagnosis had been obtained from a qualified health worker prior to visiting the drug shop. The findings further suggest that the WTP for an RDT and a course of ACT among drug shop customers is considerably lower than prevailing and estimated end-user prices for these commodities. Increasing the uptake of ACTs in drug shops and restricting the sale of ACTs to parasitologically confirmed malaria will therefore require additional measures.