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ASTMH Annual Meeting 2021 Blog / All Blog Posts / Community health workers are backbone of malaria diagnosis and treatment in kids under five in Cote d'Ivoire

Community health workers are backbone of malaria diagnosis and treatment in kids under five in Cote d'Ivoire

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Photo: A community health worker helps to identify, diagnose and treat common childhood diseases like malaria in Côte d'Ivoire. Photo credit: Tory Clawson, Save the Children. 11.23.21

By: Eric Swedberg, Manasse Kassi, Sara Canavati - Save The Children 

Malaria is the leading cause of mortality among children in Cote d’Ivoire and continues to be the top reason for hospitalizations. In Cote d’Ivoire, community health workers (CHWs) are the backbone of malaria services at the community level. A study presented at ASTMH showed that CHWs are well perceived by communities. Many benefits from CHW services for children under 5 years of age included access to community-based treatment of malaria, noticeable improvements in child health, and reduced family spending on treatment. Additionally, over half of pregnant women who had stopped attending antenatal care started to go again after interacting with a community health worker.  

However,  community health workers are challenged to provide services to all households. Distances between the CHW and the community households were a major barrier to malaria treatment. Furthermore, stock-outs of artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs) at times prevented CHWs from providing malaria treatment. The national malaria control program of the Ministry of Health, together with partners such as Save the Children, are working to address these challenges by expanding CHW coverage and improving supply chain management of supplies like ACTs to enable CHWs to provide the critical needed support to prevent deaths among the most vulnerable in Cote d’Ivoire.  

Since 2018, the Global Fund malaria program (implemented by Save the Children together with local NGOs) in Cote d’Ivoire has contributed to the scale-up and institutionalization of integrated community case management (iCCM), currently serving a total population of 5.8 million people including 895,627 children under 5 years of age. This year, from January to September 2021, CHWs tested and treated children under 5 with malaria (431,837), pneumonia (36,578), and diarrhea (20,289).  

Eric Swedberg is the Managing Director for Child Health at Save the Children. Manasse Kassi is the Chief of Party of the Global Fund Malaria Grant at Save the Children in Cote d'Ivoire. Sara Canavati is a Senior Malaria Advisor at Save the Children. 

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