Improving private practitioner care of sick children: testing new approaches in rural Bihar

Health Policy Plan. 2000 Dec;15(4):400-7. doi: 10.1093/heapol/15.4.400.


Private practitioners are a major source of care for childhood illnesses in developing countries, but the care they provide is often of poor quality. This study tested the effectiveness of two new methods for improving the quality of private practitioner care of sick children: the verbal case review (VCR) and INFECTOM. The VCR is a method for evaluating private providers' quality of care based on mothers' reports and INFECTOM is a package of interventions for improving private providers' quality of care. The study was conducted in 110 villages of Bihar State, India, by three local non-governmental organizations (NGOs). First, the VCR was used for interviews with mothers of approximately 600 children sick with diarrhoea, ARI or fever in the past 2 weeks. The VCR identified practitioners consulted for the treatment of the sick children and recorded providers' case management practices as reported by the mothers. Based on the results of the VCR, the INFECTOM intervention was carried out. This consisted of INformation sessions for the providers regarding standard case management guidelines for ARI, diarrhoea and fever, FEedback to providers on their performance based on the results of the VCR, ConTracting with practitioners to gain their commitment to practice specific guidelines, and Ongoing Monitoring of practitioners' practices with feedback of the results to the practitioners and the community. Seven months after the interventions were initiated, another cross-sectional VCR survey of approximately 300 sick children was carried out to evaluate the impact of the activities on practitioners' case management practices. The results of the study show statistically significant improvements in private practitioners' history taking, examination and counselling practices for ARI, diarrhoea and fever. It was concluded that the VCR and INFECTOM were feasible for implementation by community-based NGOs, and were effective in improving the technical quality of care provided by private health practitioners in rural India.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Health Services / standards*
  • Data Collection
  • Developing Countries
  • Humans
  • India
  • Private Practice / standards*
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care*
  • Rural Health Services / standards*