Objective: To assess the role of management practices for acute respiratory infections (ARIs) in improving the competency of community health volunteers in diagnosing and treating acute respiratory infections among children.
Methods: Data were collected by a group of research physicians who observed the performance of a sample of 120 health volunteers in 10 sub-districts in Bangladesh in which Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) had run a community-based ARI control programme since mid-1992. Standardized tests were conducted until the 95% interphysician reliability on the observation of clinical examination was achieved.
Findings: The sensitivity, specificity, and overall agreement rates in diagnosing and treating ARIs were significantly higher among the health volunteers who had basic training and were supervised routinely than among those who had not.
Conclusion: Diagnosis and treatment of ARIs at the household level in developing countries are possible if intensive basic training and the close supervision of service providers are ensured.