Increasing Access to Pneumonia Treatment for Children in Liberia

With support from Direct Relief, aid organization Last Mile Health (known in Liberia as Tiyatien Health) trained 10 Frontline Health Workers (FHW) in the last year to identify, treat, and refer children with symptoms of pneumonia – the number one cause of death of children under five worldwide.

Recent data reveals that in less than six months of project implementation, the number of children receiving pneumonia treatment per month increased by 91 percent in Liberia’s Konobo District, far exceeding the original goal of 50 percent.

On the heels of this good news, Direct Relief granted a second year of funding to Last Mile Health to boost efforts to combat childhood pneumonia, which utilizes a ground-breaking, community-based health care model to provide access to life-saving interventions for children living in rural areas.

The project began with a baseline data collection in the target region of Konobo District, 150 miles southeast of Monrovia, the capital of Liberia.  Many villages in Konobo are “last mile villages,” meaning they are rural and difficult to reach because of the long distance from city centers and poor or non-existent roads.

The survey results show that before Last Mile Health’s intervention, only 69 of an estimated 2,020 cases of pneumonia were treated.

During the next twelve months, Direct Relief and Last Mile Health are partnering to expand the Frontline Health Worker model by training 20 additional Frontline Health Workers to diagnose and treat pneumonia in children, identify and treat life-threatening health conditions, and implement a post-intervention survey to illustrate project impact.

With 30 trained FHWs, Last Mile Health will increase access to care to a total population of 15,000 people.

“Over the coming months, Last Mile Health will be expanding to additional health districts to ensure all children in last mile villages have access to comprehensive health services – and Direct Relief will be with us every step of the way, providing essential resource support,” said Raj Panjabi, executive director of Last Mile Health.

Last Mile Health is also using the low-cost model for pneumonia care as a platform to treat the other top killers of children, including diarrhea, malnutrition, and malaria.

In addition to grant support, Direct Relief provides Last Mile Health with pharmaceuticals and medical supplies needed to treat childhood pneumonia, as well as other conditions addressed by Frontline Health Workers and Konobo Health Center.

The medicines and supplies needed to treat most cases of pneumonia in children are relatively simple and inexpensive; however, these items are often unavailable in resource-poor, rural areas.

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