Improving the treatment of pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria among children

TDR news item
12 November 2012

Comprehensive evidence has been published that shows how using community health workers to diagnose and treat the three most common killers of African children – pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria – can increase access and reduce deaths. Millions of children live at the edge of health systems, with little or no ability to reach a health facility when they become sick, but a special supplement of 16 new research articles provides a rich source of information on how families can get care for their children right in their own communities.

A mother and her child in Burkina Faso who are going to see a community care worker
WHO/Guth Jamie

Published by the American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene and provided online free of charge, the supplement was edited by a consortium of international partners: Save the Children US; the World Health Organization and TDR, the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases; Boston University Schools of Public Health and Medicine and the Karolinska Institute.

Integrated community case management (iCCM) is a strategy to train, support and supply community health workers (CHW) to provide diagnostics and treatments for pneumonia, diarrhoea, and malaria for sick children of families with difficult access to case management at health facilities. Previous research has shown that this approach could result in a 70% reduction in mortality from pneumonia in children under age five, and reduce overall and severe malaria mortality by 53%. However, iCCM is not easy to implement, with many steps which must be performed sequentially and completely. The community health workers must also master skills like documentation and supply management.

The supplement addresses 16 major implementation questions, with country reports almost exclusively from sub-Saharan Africa and analyses from Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Malawi, Mali, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Uganda, and Zambia, as well as from Pakistan. Other papers address global issues, such as methods to measure access to case management and indicators to monitor iCCM programs.

In July, UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) released a joint statement of support based on this consortium’s work, and offered additional resources and support to governments to implement the strategy via a website. This supplement, which provides important additions to a growing evidence base, will be added to the site as a critical resource.

TDR’s work on this supplement has been supported by USAID and the European Union.

For more information, please contact:

Jamie Guth
TDR Communications Manager
Telephone: +41 79 441 2289