World Malaria Day: Gold helps transform malaria diagnosis


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World Gold Council film explores how gold helps save lives and money

  • To download and share the three minute ‘Gold for health’ film visit
  • To find out more about the work of FIND visit their website at

Malaria still kills more than 660,000 people every year according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the fight against the disease is being transformed by Rapid Diagnosis Tests (RDTs) which use tiny amounts of gold to identify patients in less than 20 minutes. Gold’s role in this important and cost effective medical technology is explained in a new video, ‘Gold for health’, from the World Gold Council, released to mark World Malaria Day on April 25.

Recently published WHO research suggests that the death rate remains so high because too often malaria is not diagnosed in time: “Recognising and promptly treating uncomplicated malaria is… of vital importance” to avoid life-threatening complications.1

RDTs contain a thin layer of nano-particles of gold. These gold particles help to produce a simple colour change which indicates if malaria is present in the patient’s blood sample. “RDTs are cheap, costing no more than $1 per test, and are perfect for use in the often harsh conditions commonly found in malaria zones around the world,” says Dr Trevor Keel, Head of Technology at the World Gold Council. “In 2011, WHO estimated 155 million RDTs were sold for malaria diagnosis, making this an incredibly important use of gold.”

David Bell, Head of Programme, Malaria / Acute Febrile Syndrome, Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) said: “Most people who die of infectious diseases in malaria affected countries do so because they are given the wrong medicine, or the right medicine too late. Senegal saved over a million dollars-worth of antimalarial drugs in the first few years after introducing the tests 2/3 . However, WHO data also warns that there are still not enough test kits available to meet the need.” 4

“As well as being hugely important in the worlds of jewellery and finance, gold is also critical to many technologies,” says Dr Keel. “At the nano-level the quantity of gold being used is extremely low. Here, we see life-saving malaria diagnosis can be made available for millions of people at a low cost, showing that technologies using gold can advance global health.”

The World Gold Council film, ‘Gold for health’, explores the technology behind the testing kit and shows how, in Uganda, these gold-based kits are improving diagnostics, ensuring more effective treatment and reducing the country’s healthcare budgets.

1WHO, Management of severe malaria – a practical handbook. Third edition. (15 April 2013)
2Yukick et al, 2012. Reductions in Artemisinin-Based Combination Therapy Consumption after the Nationwide Scale up of Routine Malaria Rapid Diagnostic Testing in Zambia. In: American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 2012. Vol. 83 (3), pp. 437-446
3Thiam, S., M. Thior, et al. (2011). "Major reduction in anti-malarial drug consumption in Senegal after nation-wide introduction of malaria rapid diagnostic tests." PLoS One 6(4): e18419.
4WHO. World Malaria Report, 2012. Geneva, World Health Organization, (2013).

For further information please contact:

Fiona Hughes
World Gold Council
T +44 20 7826 4717
E [email protected]

Tim Weber
T +44 20 3047 2487
E [email protected]