Background: Malaria case management continues to experience dynamic changes. Building community capacity is instrumental in both prevention and treatment of malaria. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends utilization of well-trained and supervised community health workers (CHWs) to reduce the burden of malaria deaths among children under-5 years of age in Africa. Longitudinally-tracked information on utilization of CHWs by communities in terms of trends in diagnosis of malaria in children under-5 years of age is essential in influencing national and local malaria control policies and strategies.
Methods: A desktop review was carried out of a database consisting of confirmed uncomplicated malaria cases in 10 villages using CHWs and out-patient departments of 10 health facilities in children under-five for the period of 3 years between January 2013 and December 2015. Analyses of association between the diagnosed cases and satellite-based rainfall, village and time (months and years) were carried out using a Poisson regression model.
Results: Analysis of malaria diagnoses made by CHWs showed the following trends: (i) the incidence of reported documented malaria-positive fever cases increased with time (2013-2015) and the difference over the years was statistically significant (P < 0.001), (ii) specific village was significantly associated (P < 0.001) with reporting malaria-positive fever cases, (iii) the long-term monthly sequence starting from highest to lowest incidence of reported malaria-positive fever cases was July, May and June, March, August, April, September, November, and February, October and, finally, January, and the difference in reported malaria-positives between the months was statistically significant (P = 0.001) and (iv) none of the tested rainfall regimes (current, lagged or cumulative) was associated with reported malaria-positive fever cases during the 3-year period (P > 0.1). Looking at the number of diagnoses made at the health facilities, (i) The number of reported malaria-positive fever cases decreased with time (2013-2015) and the difference among the years was not statistically significant (P = 0.399), (ii) The long-term monthly sequence starting from highest to lowest number of reported malaria-positive fever cases was July, June, May, April, January, August, March, February, September, November, October and December, and the difference between the months was statistically significant (P < 0.001).
Conclusions: CHWs have the potential to play a major role in diagnosing and treating malaria, thereby decreasing under-five children mortality. Temporally, the risk of diagnosing malaria seems predictable and this may present opportunities for policy-targeted malaria preparedness and control. The findings are expected to support policy actions that may scale-up community health services in remote rural settings.
Keywords: Community health worker; Fever; Health facilities; Kenya; Malaria diagnosis; Siaya.