Community case management improves use of treatment for childhood diarrhea, malaria and pneumonia in a remote district of Ethiopia
Background: Ethiopia’s Health Extension Workers (HEW) deliver preventive interventions and treat childhood diarrhea and malaria, but not pneumonia. Most of Ethiopia’s annual estimated 4 million childhood pneumonia cases go untreated. Objective: Evaluate the performance of volunteers in providing Community Case Management (CCM) for diarrhea,
fever and pneumonia – in a pre-HEW setting in Liben Woreda, Oromiya Regional State. Methods: Save the Children supported Ministry of Health and communities to deliver child survival interventions from 1997-2006. We obtained permission in 2005 to train 45 volunteers from remote kebeles in CCM. We evaluated the strategy through reviewing registers and supervision records; examining CCM workers; focus group discussions;
and three household surveys. Results: The CCM workers treated 4787 cases, mainly: malaria (36%), pneumonia (26%), conjunctivitis (14%), and watery diarrhea with some dehydration (12%). They saw 2.5 times more cases of childhood fever, pneumonia, and diarrhea than all the woreda’s health facility staff combined. Quality of care was good. Conclusion: The availability, quality, demand, and use of CCM were high. These CCM workers were less educated and less trained than HEWs who perform complicated tasks (Rapid Diagnostic Tests) and dispense expensive antimalarial drugs like Coartem®. They should also treat pneumonia with inexpensive drugs like cotrimoxazole to help achieve Millennium Development Goal 4.