To explore the policies for, and implementation of, the community case management (CCM) of childhood illnesses in the 68 countries that were prioritized by the “Countdown to 2015” initiative in 2008.
In 2009–2010, community approaches concerning CCM policy and implementation, the roles of community health workers (CHWs) and the availability of medicines for the treatment of malaria, diarrhoea, pneumonia and neonatal infections were investigated by sending questionnaires to implementers and policy-makers and through telephone discussions with appropriate researchers and experts.
Of the 59 countries that responded, 81%, 75%, 54% and 14% had a policy for the CCM of diarrhoea, malaria, pneumonia and neonatal infections, respectively. Only three (6%) of the 53 malaria-endemic countries providing responses had policies for all four of these conditions, although 17 (32%) had CCM policies for malaria, diarrhoea and pneumonia. Some CCM of childhood illnesses was being implemented – more commonly for diarrhoea and malaria than for pneumonia or neonatal infections – in 88% of the countries providing responses. According to the responses received, CHWs administered the recommended treatments for diarrhoea, malaria or pneumonia in 34% (17/50), 100% (41/41) and 100% (34/34) of the countries implementing CCM of these conditions, respectively. Common programme concerns were drug supplies, quality of care and CHW incentives, training and supervision.
Despite progress, further efforts are needed towards policy reform and the expansion of CCM programmes. Ensuring the availability of recommended medicines and operational research, to assure quality, remain priorities.