Training Community Health Workers to Manage Uncomplicated and Severe Malaria: Experience From 3 Rural Malaria-Endemic Areas in Sub-Saharan Africa

Clin Infect Dis. 2016 Dec 15;63(suppl 5):S264-S269. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciw624.


Background: Use of community health workers (CHWs) to increase access to diagnosis and treatment of malaria is recommended by the World Health Organization. The present article reports on training and performance of CHWs in applying these recommendations.

Methods: Two hundred seventy-nine CHWs were trained for 3-5 days in Burkina Faso, Nigeria, and Uganda, and 19 were certified to diagnose and treat only uncomplicated malaria and 235 to diagnose and treat both uncomplicated and severe malaria. Almost 1 year after training, 220 CHWs were assessed using standard checklists using facility staff responses as the reference standard.

Results: Training models were slightly different in the 3 countries, but the same topics were covered. The main challenges noticed were the low level of education in rural areas and the involvement of health staff in the supervision process. Overall performance was 98% (with 99% in taking history, 95% in measuring temperature, 85% for measuring respiratory rates, 98% for diagnosis, 98% for classification, and 99% for prescribing treatment). Young, single, new CHWs performed better than their older, married, more experienced counterparts.

Conclusions: Training CHWs for community-based diagnosis and treatment of uncomplicated and severe malaria is possible with basic and refresher training and close supervision of CHWs' performance.

Clinical trials registration: ISRCTRS13858170.

Keywords: ACTs; community health worker; malaria; rectal artesunate; training.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Rectal
  • Adult
  • Africa South of the Sahara / epidemiology
  • Antimalarials / administration & dosage
  • Antimalarials / therapeutic use*
  • Artemisinins / administration & dosage
  • Artemisinins / therapeutic use
  • Artesunate
  • Burkina Faso / epidemiology
  • Community Health Workers / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Malaria / drug therapy*
  • Malaria / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nigeria / epidemiology
  • Rural Population
  • Uganda / epidemiology


  • Antimalarials
  • Artemisinins
  • Artesunate