BACKGROUND: In 2004, Ethiopia switched its first-line treatment of uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria from sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine to a fixed artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT), artemether-lumefantrine (AL). Patient adherence to AL regimen is a major determining factor to achieve the desired therapeutic outcome. The aim of this study was to measure patient adherence levels to the six-dose AL regimen for the treatment of uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria and to identify its determinant factors in rural areas of the Tigray region, Ethiopia
METHODS: The study was conducted under routine health service delivery at health posts level. Patients/caregivers were not informed about their home visit and were traced on the day after they finished the AL regimen. By combining the response to a structured questionnaire and the tablet count from the blister, adherence level was classified into three categories: definitely non-adherent, probably non-adherent and probably adherent. Reasons for being definitely non-adherent were also assessed. For the purpose of examine risk factors, definitely non-adherent and probably non-adherent was merged into a non-adherent group. Variables found significantly associated (p < 0.05) with the adherence level on the univariate analysis were fitted into a multivariate logistic regression model.
RESULTS: Out of the total initially enrolled 180 patients, 86.1% completed the follow-up. Out of these, 38.7% were classified as probably adherent, 34.8% as probably non-adherent, and 26.5% were definitely non-adherent. The most common reasons that definitely non-adherents gave for not taking the full dose were "too many tablets" (37.3%) and to "felt better before finished the treatment course" (25.5%). The adherence of the patients was associated with the ownership of a radio (adjusted odd ratio, AOR: 3.8; 95% CI: 1.66-8.75), the belief that malaria can be treated traditionally (AOR: 0.09; 95% CI: 0.01-0.78) and a delay of more than one day in seeking treatment after the onset of fever (AOR: 5.39; 95% CI: 1.83-15.88).
CONCLUSION: The very low adherence to AL found in this study raises serious concerns for the malaria control in the region. The implementation of a monitoring adherence system is essential to ensure long-term treatment efficacy.
2011. Vol. 10, 349- p.