Summary

Clinicians treating patients with severe malaria in endemic areas confront a variety of challenges inherent to resource-poor settings, but it is possible to provide excellent care. The basic requirements, in addition to a thorough clinical examination of the patient, include assessing parasitaemia; determining anaemia (via haematocrit or haemoglobin); estimating blood glucose and lactate concentrations; establishing and maintaining i.v. access; measuring oxygen saturation and providing supplemental oxygen when necessary; grouping, cross-matching and transfusing blood. This paper provides practical information on determining the Blantyre Coma Score, collecting cerebrospinal fluid and measuring the opening pressure, and administering controlled volumes of i.v. fluids. Included is a narrative protocol describing the approach to patients with cerebral malaria used on the research ward at the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi.

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