Can Community Health Workers Provide Quality Integrated Community Management of Febrile Illnesses?

A Case study of Community Health Workers in Two Selected Local Government Areas of Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. A Poster Presentation at the 61st Annual Meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 11-15 November 2012, Atlanta.
Bright C. Orji1, William R. Brieger2, Emmanuel Otolorin1, Jones Nwadike3, Edueno V. Bassey4, Mayen Nkanga5 1Jhpiego/Nigeria, Abuja, Nigeria, 2The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, United States, 3Dunamis Medical Diagnostic Services, Lagos, Nigeria, 4Etebi Health Center, Esit Eket, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria, 5Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Health, Uyo, Nigeria

The World Health Organization has recommended improved quality of care as key elements in strengthening health systems in poor resource countries, Engagement of Community Health Workers (CHWs) can reduce challenges such as weak public sector, human resource constraints, and variable quality of the private sector. Efforts to improve access to quality case management of febrile illness in Nigeria included the engagement of Community Health Workers (CHWs) to use Rapid Diagnostic tests as a component of home management of malaria, dispense ACTs and manage pneumonia and diarrhea.

checklist.jpgThis current effort monitored and measured the performance of CHWs in providing quality management of febrile illnesses in two selected LGAs. The authors trained one hundred and fifty-two CHWs and developed simple quality performance standards (one-page tool) for CHWs providing community services in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. All 152 trained CHWs providing malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea case management were monitored and assessed using the standards. The tool has 37 performance criteria (PC) to measure CHW knowledge, skills and competence in 3 sections: History taking and Examination; Conducting RDTs for Malaria; and Illness Management.

Trained assessors observed CHWs providing services. Each correctly performed criterion was scored 1 point. Four rounds of assessments were conducted at an interval of two months from June 2011 – March, 2012. During Round 1 CHWs achieved an average of 19 (52.2%) PC. This rose to 25 (67.5%) PC at Round 2; 28 (75. 6%) at Round 3 and 30 (81.1%) and (p = 0.00). PC that needed most improvement included reinforcement on checking RDT expiry date, entering results on records, and safe disposing of sharps.

CHWs can provide quality case management of febrile illness in the current efforts to reduce annual deaths of people at risk while contributing to the achievement of targets numbers 4, 5 and 6 of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). In conclusion CHW supervisors can use this tool to enhance the quality of services provided by the CHWs and improve CHW training.

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