Translating Research into Action (TRAction) Project Leads Research to Provide Care to Hard-to-Reach Children

Integrated Community Case Management (iCCM) is a strategy that extends the reach of health care services for childhood illnesses beyond health facilities to provide services to children in isolated areas. The strategy relies on community-based health care workers after training them to provide integrated, multi-disease treatments. iCCM packages differ by country and context, but  commonly include the diagnosis and treatment of diarrhea, pneumonia and malaria. It is also increasingly used to treat neonatal infections and malnutrition. The health workers' training covers diagnosis and treatment of these common childhood illnesses and when to refer children for immediate, higher level care. This approach has proven to be a high-impact strategy to increase health coverage for children in remote locations.

While iCCM programs have been endorsed by major international organizations, many countries have yet to implement or scale them up, largely due to structural and leadership issues, drug shortages and uncertainty about the structures and strategies needed to ensure success. To reduce this uncertainty and support the roll-out of iCCM more broadly, the USAID Translating Research into Action (TRAction) project is supporting three research studies in sub-Saharan Africa: developing an iCCM costing and financing tool; conducting embedded implementation research on iCCM monitoring; and investigating effective iCCM policy development processes.

CORE Group Spring 2014 Global Health Practitioner Conference

TRAction joined over 200 global health practitioners from nearly 100 organizations for skill building, networking and program learning at CORE Group's Conference in May. TRAction Research Analyst Tiffany Clark participated in a pre-conference session led by the iCCM Task Force on strengthening and monitoring evaluation for iCCM. The session shared insights on the capacity of iCCM routine monitoring systems to capture data and link with other systems, how data from routine and periodic sources are used for decision-making and how innovative approaches can be applied to improve data quality and use.

Also at the conference, TRAction led a new-information circuit table on integrating iCCM policy into community health platforms. The project presented lessons from the studies for both policy makers and program managers and discussed how study findings may influence the fit of iCCM into the greater community health context.

Finally, TRAction participated in a session summarizing key themes emerging from the iCCM Evidence Review held in March 2014 in Ghana. All three study teams played an integral role at the symposium in presenting across several thematic sessions on how lessons from the studies can strengthen community health service delivery.

Spreading the Word on iCCM

TRAction recently hosted a virtual brown bag on an innovative approach to improve iCCM data use in Malawi; the approach had been tested as part of the TRAction iCCM "Improving Data to Improve Programs" Embedded Research project. Based on findings from a desk review and data quality assessment of the iCCM Monitoring and Evaluation system in Malawi, an innovative program was developed and piloted to improve data interpretation and use at the health worker level. Emmanuel Chimbalanga of Save the Children Malawi presented findings from an evaluation of this program as well as how this research has been taken up and expanded to other districts by the Malawi Ministry of Health.

TRAction is sponsoring a special issue of the journal Health Policy and Planning to be published later this year. Under the theme "iCCM: A lens on policy developments in sub-Saharan Africa," the issue will examine key issues emerging from analyses of iCCM policies in six African countries and globally.

TRAction will also host a satellite session—titled "Policy lessons for strengthening community health service delivery"—at the Health Systems Research Symposium on September 30th in Cape Town, South Africa. For more information on this session or to register, visit the symposium website.

Date 
June 18, 2014
Authors 
Tiffany Clark, Research Analyst and Sabina Behague, Communications Specialist
Regions/ Countries