1 June 2017

Africa: Pioneers in Pneumonia Diagnostics - Malaria Consortium Experts' Peer-Reviewed Article Published

Malaria Consortium technical specialists have contributed to a unique published peer-reviewed article on pneumonia diagnostic tool preferences from both end users and procurers. The existing knowledge base on the views of these groups is limited, and the paper fills this gap.

The article, published in Global Health Action, is titled Childhood pneumonia diagnostics: community health workers' and national stakeholders' differing perspectives of new and existing aids. It explains results from a multi-country study, that aimed to determine preferences of community health workers (CHWs) and national stakeholders, over different pneumonia diagnostic aids. This was with a view to determining key features of the aids and, therefore, maximising impact of diagnostic aids. The results showed that both groups valued similar features, expressing a need for simple and affordable devices.


The study took place in four countries, with a significant childhood pneumonia burden: Cambodia, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Uganda.


Data was collected using two methods: these were pile-sorting activities, followed by focus group discussions. Pile sorting is a qualitative method used mainly in social sciences and health research. It aims to capture participants' opinion or experiences by having them sort words, items or pictures into piles that classify a range of opinions or categories of interest.[1] The participants had to sort different cards with device names into piles, based on perceived usability and scalability. Focus group discussions, held with national stakeholders and CHWs, aimed to explore rationale behind decisions in their pile sorting.


Each diagnostic aid boasted different features. After evaluation of the device rankings, results were drawn over several criteria. National stakeholders wanted low cost devices, while CHWs were concerned about losing or having to replace high cost devices. Similarly, both groups agreed that simplicity of the device was essential for ease of use and scale, and highlighted the need for devices that could survive in situations where there is little or no access to electricity and charging facilities. Both groups stated that any device needs to be very durable for these extreme conditions. The acceptability of the devices to parents, CHWs and children was also an important criterion. CHWs felt the current device did not support them enough, and highlighted that the diagnostic aid needs to assist in correct classification of children.

Looking forward

Overall, for both groups, simplicity and affordability were important factors in determining the usability and scalability of pneumonia diagnostic aids. It is clear, therefore, that these criteria are highly relevant for the development of diagnostic devices in the future.

[1] Bourey C, Stephenson R, Bartel D, et al. Pile sorting innovations: exploring gender norms, power and equity in sub-Saharan Africa. Glob Public Health. 2012;7:995-1008. [Taylor & Francis Online]


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