Case | HBS Case Collection | January 2011 (Revised April 2014)

Uptake of Malaria Rapid Diagnostic Tests

by Nava Ashraf, Natalie Kindred and Richard Sedlmayr


This case describes barriers to adoption of malaria rapid diagnostic tests in Zambia and highlights the importance of understanding end users in promoting product adoption. Rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) are simple, easy-to-use tools that provide a relatively reliable, inexpensive way to confirm diagnoses of malaria. In addition to ensuring that patients' febrile illnesses are properly diagnosed and treated, confirming malaria diagnoses has broader public health benefits, including promoting the efficient use of limited malaria medications and preventing increased resistance to first-line malaria treatment. However, despite the evident potential benefits of RDTs, many clinicians in Zambia do not use them or simply ignore their results. Why don't they trust these tools, and what can be done to improve adoption? Various barriers to uptake and methods to overcome these challenges are explored, with broad implications for technology adoption and health policy. A particular emphasis is placed on the role of behavioral preferences.

Keywords: Developing Countries and Economies; Health Pandemics; Technology; Health Care and Treatment; Policy; Behavior; Prejudice and Bias; Health Industry; Zambia;


Ashraf, Nava, Natalie Kindred, and Richard Sedlmayr. "Uptake of Malaria Rapid Diagnostic Tests." Harvard Business School Case 911-007, January 2011. (Revised April 2014.) (Request a courtesy copy.)