Using community health workers for malaria control: experience in Zaire

C Delacollette, P Van der Stuyft, K Molima
Bulletin of the World Health Organization 1996, 74 (4): 423-30
The potential for using community health workers (CHW) for administering timely and effective treatment for presumptive malaria attacks was evaluated in the Katana health zone in Zaire. In each of the 12 villages of an intervention area (area A) with 13000 inhabitants, a CHW was trained in the use of a simple fever management algorithm. The CHWs performed their services under the supervision of the nurse in charge of the area's health centre (HC). Malaria morbidity and mortality trends were monitored during 2 years in area A and in an ecologically comparable control area (area B), where malaria treatment continued to be available at the HC only. Health care behaviour changed dramatically in the intervention area, and by the end of the observation period 65% of malaria episodes were treated at the community level. Malaria morbidity declined 50% in area A but remained stable in the control area. Parasitological indices showed similar trends. Malaria-specific mortality rates remained, however, at essentially the same levels in both areas. The non-comprehensiveness of the CHWs' care and their ambiguous position in the health care system created problems that compromise the sustainability of the intervention.

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