Around the world, many families never make it to a health facility. Until today's publication, no rigorous randomized study had shown whether community health workers could safely and effectively treat cases of severe pneumonia at home.
"Our study aimed to show that children can recover just as well from severe pneumonia when treated at home as when referred to a health facility. In fact, we found that frontline health workers treating children at home can be even more effective," said the study's principal investigator, Dr. Salim Sadruddin of Save the Children.
Dr. Elizabeth Mason, Director of WHO's Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health, said: "The results of the Pakistan trial are very promising, and we will be looking closely at future studies. If we see similar results in other places, we can update the global guidance to make treatment much more accessible for families, help governments make the most of limited resources, and save more children's lives."
The study followed 3,211 children with severe pneumonia in the Haripur district of Pakistan. The control group was given an initial dose of oral antibiotic and referred to a health facility. Some families did not make the trip, while others failed to receive proper treatment even after they did. The experimental group of children was treated in the community with oral antibiotics for five days by Lady Health Workers who had received additional training.
Treatment failures occurred 50 percent less often in the experimental group. After five days, 18 percent of children referred to a facility were still ill, compared to 9 percent of those treated by Lady Health Workers.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funded the new Lancet
|Contact: Tanya Weinberg|
Save the Children