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Background: Innovative strategies are needed to tackle childhood mortality in the rural tropics. Artesunate suppositories were developed to bring emergency treatment closer to severely ill children with malaria in rural areas where injectable treatment is not possible for several hours. Adding an antibacterial rectal drug would extend this strategy to treat non-malarial febrile illness as well. The objective of these studies was to assess acceptability of such a new pre-referral strategy by healthcare providers and likely uptake by the population. Methods. Two qualitative studies were conducted between May and July 2009. Study 1 investigated the acceptability of introducing a combined antimalarial-antibacterial suppository by interviewing 27 representatives of the three administrative levels (central government, regional, local) of the health sector; Study 2 investigated treatment-seeking behaviour and acceptability of this intervention at community level by interviewing 74 mothers in 2 villages. Results and Conclusions. Up to 92% of health representatives were in favour of introducing a new pre-referral strategy to tackle both malaria and non-malaria related severe illnesses in Guinea-Bissau, provided it was endorsed by international health authorities. The main obstacles to implementation were the very limited human and financial resources. In the two villages surveyed, 44% of the mothers associated severe illness with fever only, or fever plus one additional symptom. Mothers' judgement of severity and ensuing decisions were not specific for serious illness, indicating that initial training to recognize signs of severe disease and treatment availability for non-severe, fever-associated symptoms will be required to prevent overuse of a new intervention designed as a pre-referral treatment for severely ill children. Level C health centres were the first resort in both villages (50% and 87% of respondents respectively). This information is encouraging for the implementation of a pre-referral treatment. © 2014 Vermeersch et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
Vermeersch, A., Libaud-Moal, A., Rodrigues, A., White, N. J., Olliaro, P., Gomes, M., … Millet, P. (2014). Introducing the concept of a new pre-referral treatment for severely ill febrile children at community level: A sociological approach in Guinea-Bissau. Malaria Journal, 13(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2875-13-50