integrated case management of childhood illnesses (iCCM)

{Photo credit: Todd Shapera}Photo credit: Todd Shapera

In the Geita District in Tanzania’s Lake Zone, some 10 kilometers from the nearest health facility, a one-year-old girl child wakes up crying with a severe fever. “We used to walk more than 10 kilometers to present our sick children to Geita Regional Hospital,” says Joyce Bahati, the girl’s mother.

Access to proper diagnosis and medicine is critical when a child develops a severe fever. A long journey can delay treatment, or for some, discourage seeking care altogether. In rural sub-Saharan Africa, where the nearest fully-functional health facility may be, at best, a three-hour journey on foot, women and children often turn first to community-based caregivers and medicines sellers or small health dispensaries as first providers of primary health care, including severe fever.

{Photo credit: Rui Peres, Uganda}Photo credit: Rui Peres, Uganda

The Guardian's Global Development Professionals Network organized an online conversation with experts on improving child health through community-based care, namely integrated community case management (ICCM).

"ICCM is a key investment because many children and families live too far from a viable health center to reach needed basic care in time that could save the child’s life," said MSH's Global Technical Lead on Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health Ciro Franco, MD, MPH, during the September 12 discussion. "ICCM should start with the full consensus of the communities and an assessment of the support system behind it that will enable the community health workers to do their job in an efficient and effective way."

In addition to Dr. Franco (of ), the expert panel included:

A community-based distribution agent discusses family planning options with a family in the DRC health zone of Ndekesha. {Photo credit: MSH.}Photo credit: MSH.

Cross-posted from Frontline Health Workers Coalition.

Evidence of the need to scale up the number of frontline health workers in developing countries abounds throughout sub-Saharan Africa, as described in a recent post on the Frontline Health Workers Coalition blog by Avril Ogrodnick of Abt Associates. Yet training new health workers is not sufficient, in itself, to sustainably address the crisis: governments must also invest in providing management support to harvest the full value of these trainings.

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