Pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria remain leading causes of death for children under 5 years of age and access to effective and appropriate treatment for sick children is extremely low where it is needed most. Integrated community case management (iCCM) enables community health workers to provide basic lifesaving treatment for sick children living in remote communities for these diseases. While many governments in sub-Saharan Africa recently changed policies to support iCCM, large variations in implementation remain. As a result, the collaboration represented in this supplement examined the policy processes underpinning iCCM through qualitative case study research in six purposively identified countries (Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, Kenya, Malawi and Mozambique) and the global context. We introduce the supplement, by reviewing how policy analysis can inform: (a) how we frame iCCM and negotiate its boundaries, (b) how we tailor iCCM for national health systems and (c) how we foster accountability and learning for iCCM. In terms of framing, iCCM boundaries reflect how an array of actors use evidence to prioritize particular aspects of child mortality (lack of access to treatment), and how this underpins the ability to reach consensus and legitimate specific policy enterprises. When promoted at national level, contextual health system factors, such as the profile of CHWs and the history of primary health care, cannot be ignored. Adaptation to these contextual realities may lead to unintended consequences not forseen by technical or managerial expertize alone. Further scaling up of iCCM requires understanding of the political accountabilities involved, how ownership can be fostered and learning for improved policies and programs sustained. Collectively these articles demonstrate that iCCM, although often compartmentalized as a technical intervention, also reflects the larger and messier real world of health politics, policy and practice, for which policy analysis is vital, as an integral component of public health programming.
Keywords: Child health; community case management; policy analysis; policy process.
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