A Community Health Worker Intervention to Increase Childhood Disease Treatment Coverage in Rural Liberia: A Controlled Before-and-After Evaluation

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Abstract

Objectives

To assess a community health worker (CHW) program’s impact on childhood illness treatment in rural Liberia.

Methods

We deployed CHWs in half of Rivercess County in August 2015 with the other half constituting a comparison group until July 2016. All CHWs were provided cash incentives, supply chain support, and monthly clinical supervision. We conducted stratified cluster-sample population-based surveys at baseline (March-April 2015) and follow-up (April-June 2016) and performed a difference-in-differences analysis, adjusted by inverse probability of treatment weighting, to assess changes in treatment of fever, diarrhea, and acute respiratory infection by a qualified provider.

Results

We estimated a childhood treatment difference-in-differences of 56.4 percentage points (95% confidence interval [CI] = 36.4, 76.3). At follow-up, CHWs provided 57.6% (95% CI = 42.8, 71.2) of treatment in the intervention group. The difference-in-differences diarrhea oral rehydration therapy was 22.4 percentage points (95% CI = −0.7, 45.5).

Conclusions

Implementation of a CHW program in Rivercess County, Liberia, was associated with large, statistically significant improvements treatment by a qualified provider; however, improvements in correct diarrhea treatment were lower than improvements in coverage. Findings from this study offer support for expansion of Liberia’s new National Community Health Assistant Program.

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