Background: Management of severe and very severe pneumonia in children relies on hospital-based treatment, but practical barriers often prevent children in areas with the highest rates from receiving hospital care.
Objective: To develop and prospectively evaluate a day-care clinic approach, which provided antibiotics, feeding and supportive care during the day with continued care provided by parents at home, as an effective alternative to hospitalisation.
Methods: Children aged 2–59 months with severe or very severe pneumonia without associated co-morbidities, denied admission to hospital because of lack of beds, were enrolled at Radda Clinic, Dhaka and received antibiotics, feeding and supportive care from 08:00 to 17:00 every day, while mothers were educated on continuation of care at home during the night.
Results: From June 2003 to May 2005, 251 children were enrolled. Severe and very severe pneumonia was present in 189 (75%) and 62 (25%) children, respectively, and 143 (57%) were hypoxaemic with a mean (SD) oxygen saturation of 93 (4)%, which increased to 98 (3)% on oxygen therapy. The mean (SD) day-care period was 7 (2) days. Successful management was possible in 234 children (93% (95% CI 89% to 96%)), but 11 (4.4% (95% CI 2.5% to 7.7%)) had to be referred to hospital, and six (2.4% (95% CI 1.1% to 5.1%)) discontinued treatment. There were no deaths during the day-care study period; however, four children (1.6% (95% CI 0.6% to 4.0%)) died during the 3-month follow-up period, and 11 (4.4% (95% CI 2.5% to 7.7%)) required hospital admission.
Conclusion: Severe and very severe pneumonia in children without associated co-morbidities such as severe malnutrition can be successfully managed at day-care clinics.
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Funding: The study was funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Bern, the Gastrointestinal Research Foundation, Liestal, and the University of Basel, Switzerland. ICDDR,B acknowledges with gratitude the commitment of the above donors to the centre’s research efforts.
Competing interests: None.