Background: To examine performance of the identification and estimation of percentage parasitaemia of Plasmodium falciparum in stained blood films distributed in the UK National External Quality Assessment Scheme (UKNEQAS) Blood Parasitology Scheme. Methods. Analysis of performance for the diagnosis and estimation of the percentage parasitaemia of P. falciparum in Giemsa-stained thin blood films was made over a 15-year period to look for trends in performance. Results: An average of 25% of participants failed to estimate the percentage parasitaemia, 17% overestimated and 8% underestimated, whilst 5% misidentified the malaria species present. Conclusions: Although the results achieved by participants for other blood parasites have shown an overall improvement, the level of performance for estimation of the parasitaemia of P. falciparum remains unchanged over 15 years. Possible reasons include incorrect calculation, not examining the correct part of the film and not examining an adequate number of microscope fields.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
CO collated the distribution performance data. MM drafted the manuscript and extracted the relevant data from the performance data. NA performed the statistical analyses and advised on the relevance of the statistical analyses. PLC participated in the design and coordination of the study. PLC is supported by the UCL Hospitals Comprehensive Biomedical Research Centre Infection Theme. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.