Background: Community health workers (CHWs) were trained in Burkina Faso, Nigeria, and Uganda to diagnose febrile children using malaria rapid diagnostic tests, and treat positive malaria cases with artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) and those who could not take oral medicines with rectal artesunate. We quantified the impact of this intervention on private household costs for childhood febrile illness.
Methods: Households with recent febrile illness in a young child in previous 2 weeks were selected randomly before and during the intervention and data obtained on household costs for the illness episode. Household costs included consultation fees, registration costs, user fees, diagnosis, bed, drugs, food, and transport costs. Private household costs per episode before and during the intervention were compared. The intervention's impact on household costs per episode was calculated and projected to districtwide impacts on household costs.
Results: Use of CHWs increased from 35% of illness episodes before the intervention to 50% during the intervention (P < .0001), and total household costs per episode decreased significantly in each country: from US Dollars (USD) $4.36 to USD $1.54 in Burkina Faso, from USD $3.90 to USD $2.04 in Nigeria, and from USD $4.46 to USD $1.42 in Uganda (all P < .0001). There was no difference in the time used by the child's caregiver to care for a sick child (59% before intervention vs 51% during intervention spent ≤2 days). Using the most recent population figures for each study district, we estimate that the intervention could save households a total of USD $29 965, USD $254 268, and USD $303 467, respectively, in the study districts in Burkina Faso, Nigeria, and Uganda.
Conclusions: Improving access to malaria diagnostics and treatments in malaria-endemic areas substantially reduces private household costs. The key challenge is to develop and strengthen community human resources to deliver the intervention, and ensure adequate supplies of commodities and supervision. We demonstrate feasibility and benefit to populations living in difficult circumstances.
Clinical trials registration: ISRCTN13858170.
Keywords: ACTs; CHW; access; economics; malaria.
© 2016 World Health Organization; licensee Oxford Journals.