Background: Reports of high levels of antimicrobial resistance to cotrimoxazole in children with non-severe pneumonia (NSP) have prompted calls for a change to amoxicillin in the therapeutic guidelines at the first-level health care facility (FLHF). FLHFs lack data about the use of World Health Organization (WHO) acute respiratory infection (ARI) standard case management (SCM).
Objective: To apply ARI SCM guidelines at the FLHF, assess clinical outcome of NSP with oral cotrimoxazole and determine the risk factors influencing treatment outcome.
Design: Health care workers (HCWs) at 14 health centres managed children aged 2-59 months with NSP according to ARI SCM guidelines. The primary outcome was treatment failure, including change of antibiotic therapy and loss to follow-up.
Results: Of 949 children enrolled, 110 (11.6%) failed therapy with oral cotrimoxazole. Clinical failure was significantly higher among children presenting with a fast respiratory rate of > or = 15 breaths/min above normal for age and wheezing on examination.
Conclusions: To treat children with NSP at the FLHF, oral cotrimoxazole is an acceptable treatment choice in view of the efficacy, cost and ease of use. In children with wheezing and signs of pneumonia, the decision to use antibiotic therapy should be made after a trial of bronchodilator therapy.