JOURNAL ARTICLE

Access, acceptability and utilization of community health workers using diagnostics for case management of fever in Ugandan children: a cross-sectional study

David Mukanga, James K Tibenderana, Stefan Peterson, George W Pariyo, Juliet Kiguli, Peter Waiswa, Rebecca Babirye, Godfrey Ojiambo, Simon Kasasa, Franco Pagnoni, Karin Kallander
Malaria Journal 2012 May 24, 11: 121
22521034

BACKGROUND: Use of diagnostics in integrated community case management (iCCM) of fever is recognized as an important step in improving rational use of drugs and quality of care for febrile under-five children. This study assessed household access, acceptability and utilization of community health workers (CHWs) trained and provided with malaria rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) and respiratory rate timers (RRTs) to practice iCCM.

METHODS: A total of 423 households with under-five children were enrolled into the study in Iganga district, Uganda. Households were selected from seven villages in Namungalwe sub-county using probability proportionate to size sampling. A semi-structured questionnaire was administered to caregivers in selected households. Data were entered into Epidata statistical software, and analysed using SPSS Statistics 17.0, and STATA version 10.

RESULTS: Most (86%, 365/423) households resided within a kilometre of a CHW's home, compared to 26% (111/423) residing within 1 km of a health facility (p < 0.001). The median walking time by caregivers to a CHW was 10 minutes (IQR 5-20). The first option for care for febrile children in the month preceding the survey was CHWs (40%, 242/601), followed by drug shops (33%, 196/601).Fifty-seven percent (243/423) of caregivers took their febrile children to a CHW at least once in the three month period preceding the survey. Households located 1-3 km from a health facility were 72% (AOR 1.72; 95% CI 1.11-2.68) more likely to utilize CHW services compared to households within 1 km of a health facility. Households located 1-3 km from a CHW were 81% (AOR 0.19; 95% CI 0.10-0.36) less likely to utilize CHW services compared to those households residing within 1 km of a CHW.A majority (79%, 336/423) of respondents thought CHWs services were better with RDTs, and 89% (375/423) approved CHWs' continued use of RDTs. Eighty-six percent (209/243) of respondents who visited a CHW thought RRTs were useful.

CONCLUSION: ICCM with diagnostics is acceptable, increases access, and is the first choice for caregivers of febrile children. More than half of caregivers of febrile children utilized CHW services over a three-month period. However, one-third of caregivers used drug shops in spite of the presence of CHWs.

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