Purpose: Diarrhea and pneumonia greatly contribute to high childhood mortality in Pakistan. Frontline community health workers or the Lady Health Workers (LHWs) provide care at the doorstep of over 60% of Pakistan’s rural residents. Difficult terrain, lack of supplies, and inadequate supervision put these LHWs at an added disadvantage in the timely diagnosis and delivery of known treatment options to community caregivers (CCGs). This study aims to assess whether a supportive supervision intervention through Lady Health Supervisors (LHSs) using enhanced mentorship and written feedback cards have the potential to improve case management of childhood diarrhea and pneumonia. Study Setting and Design: This perception-based qualitative inquiry nested within the Nigraan Plus trial included LHSs, LHWs, and CCGs as the participants. Twenty-two in-depth interviews (IDIs) and 16 focus group discussions (FGDs) were conducted before a supportive supervision intervention in 2017, and 10 FGDs were conducted in 2019 once the intervention concluded. Data were analyzed using manual content analysis. Results: The perceived ability of LHWs and LHSs to describe the danger signs of diarrhea and pneumonia, classify dehydration and relate respiratory rate to the severity of pneumonia improved over time. Appropriate prescription of zinc in diarrhea and antibiotics in pneumonia was noted. Furthermore, CCGs’ trust in LHWs increased following the intervention, and they reported a growing inclination to contact LHWs as their first point of care. LHWs in the intervention arm were more satisfied with their job due to frequent supervisory visits and continuous feedback by LHSs. Conclusion: Despite geographic, social, and economic inequities, supportive supervision has the potential to improve knowledge, practice, and skills of frontline health workers related to CCM of childhood diarrhea and pneumonia in disadvantaged rural communities. Additionally, the trust of CCGs in the health workers’ ability to manage such cases is also enhanced.
- Childhood diarrhea and pneumonia
- Community caregivers
- Community case management
- Community health workers
- Supportive supervision