For decades, thousands of people have been dying from malaria infections because of poor-quality medicines (PQMs). While numerous efforts have been initiated to reduce their presence, PQMs are still risking the lives of those seeking treatment.
This review addresses the importance of characterising results of antimalarial medicine field surveys based upon the agreement of clearly defined definitions. Medicines found to be of poor quality can be falsified or counterfeit, substandard or degraded. The distinction between these categories is important as each category requires a different countermeasure. To observe the current trends in the reporting of field surveys, a systematic literature search of six academic databases resulted in the quantitative analysis of 61 full-text journal articles. Information including sample size, sampling method, geographical regions, analytical techniques, and characterisation conclusions was observed for each.
The lack of an accepted uniform reporting system has resulted in varying, incomplete reports, which may not include important information that helps form effective countermeasures. The programmes influencing medicine quality such as prequalification, procurement services, awareness and education can be supported with the information derived from characterised results. The implementation of checklists such as the Medicine Quality Assessment Reporting Guidelines will further strengthen the battle against poor-quality antimalarials.