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Will I get any answers?

January 23, 2013 - 14:25 -- Ricardo Ataide

Pop-quiz: You're not an MD, you are conducting research in a malaria endemic setting and you are not part of the local health system. You overhear a doctor prescribing the wrong malaria drug treatment to a pregnant woman. What do you do?


Bart G.J. Knols's picture
Submitted by Bart G.J. Knols on

This is very tricky. You are not an MD, so officially this is none of your business. Besides, you are not part of the local health system, so interference will not easily be accepted. But there's another side to the story: is it ethical to let a pregnant woman being treated with the wrong anti-malarial drug? I don't think so.

If I would find myself in that position I'd probably walk up to this doctor and ask if I could talk to him in private for a second. Then I would introduce myself, would make explicitly clear that I am not an MD, but that I am convinced that he is prescribing the wrong medication. I would then urge him to contact his peers, the MoH in his country, or international experts, to provide him with the right advice.

In that way the information would not come from me but from a source he trusts...
Interesting dilemma!

Submitted by Ricardo Ataide on

We ended up calling the National malaria control program (in the Capital City) and asking them to send us some Treatment Manuals so that we could offer to the Doctors. We thought that we could not go straight to the Doctor and point out his mistake and that the best would be to get them some manuals so they can have on their desks. I can tell you that that contact with the Malaria Control Program stirred up a few issues...

Sad to notice that this question was not able to stir any of the >7000 members of Malaria World

Ricardo Ataíde

Submitted by Ricardo Ataide on

Hi Bart,

It is a very tricky one indeed! I'll wait to see if I can get any more opinions and then I'll let you know what my colleagues and I did.


Ricardo Ataíde