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The purpose of this study is to examine whether the implementation of a referral template will increase quality of health care delivered and the quality of health care co-operation. The investigators intent to implement a referral template, at the level of the general practitioner (GP), for the referral of patients within 4 separate diagnostic groups: - dyspepsia/upper GI symptoms - colonic cancer investigation/lower GI symptoms - chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) - chest pain Local GP clinics will be randomised to use the referral template or to use standard referral practice. Using a predefined set of quality criteria the investigators will score the process of care in each patient, and compare intervention and control groups. In addition other criteria will be collected and compared between the two groups, e.g. - time to diagnosis/treatment - quality of referral - more appropriate referrals - patient satisfaction (as measured by a questionnaire) The investigators hypothesize that the implementation of a referral template will lead to a measurable increase in the quality of health care delivered.
Most malaria deaths occur within 48 hours of onset of symptoms, and in rural areas with poor access to health facilities, home management of malaria (HMM) can improve the timeliness of treatment and reduce malaria mortality by up to 50%. In order to maximize both coverage and impact, artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs) should be deployed in HMM programmes, as well as in formal health facilities. Up to 80% of malaria cases are treated outside the formal health sector and shops are frequently visited as the first (and in some cases only) source of treatment. Strategies to deploy ACTs in Africa thus also need to examine the role of shops in home management and to ensure that drugs sold are appropriate. The current practice of presumptive treatment of any febrile illness as malaria (both at health facilities and in the context of HMM) based solely on clinical symptoms without routine laboratory confirmation, results in significant over-use of antimalarial drugs. With ACT being a more costly regimen, it is important to be more restrictive in its administration and rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) provide a simple means of confirming malaria diagnosis in remote locations lacking electricity and qualified health staff. This study therefore proposes to evaluate the feasibility, acceptability, and cost-effectiveness of using RDTs to improve malaria diagnosis and treatment by ocal drug shops in an area with high malaria transmission.