Community case management in Nicaragua: Lessons in fostering adoption and expanding implementation

Asha George, Elaine P. Menotti, Dixmer Rivera, David R. Marsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Community case management (CCM) as applied to child survival is a strategy that enables trained community health workers or volunteers to assess, classify, treat and refer sick children who reside beyond the reach of fixed health facilities. The Nicaraguan Ministry of Health (MOH) and Save the Children trained and supported brigadistas (community health volunteers) in CCM to improve equitable access to treatment for pneumonia, diarrhoea and dysentery for children in remote areas. In this article, we examine the policy landscape and processes that influenced the adoption and implementation of CCM in Nicaragua. Contextual factors in the policy landscape that facilitated CCM included an international technical consensus supporting the strategy; the role of government in health care provision and commitment to reaching the poor; a history of community participation; the existence of community-based child survival strategies; the decentralization of implementation authority; internal MOH champions; and a credible catalyst organization. Challenges included scepticism about community-level cadres; resistance from health personnel; operational gaps in treatment norms and materials to support the strategy; resource constraints affecting service delivery; tensions around decentralization; and changes in administration. In order to capitalize on the opportunities and overcome the challenges that characterized the policy landscape, stakeholders pursued various efforts to support CCM including sparking interest, framing issues, monitoring and communicating results, ensuring support and cohesion among health personnel, supporting local adaptation, assuring credibility and ownership, joint problem solving, addressing sustainability and fostering learning. While delineated as separate efforts, these policy and implementation processes were dynamic and interactive in nature, balancing various tensions. Our qualitative analysis highlights the importance of supporting routine monitoring and documentation of these strategic operational policy and management issues vital for CCM success. We also demonstrate that while challenges to CCM adoption and implementation exist, they are not insurmountable. Published by Oxford University Press in association with The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)327-337
Number of pages11
JournalHealth Policy and Planning
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • child health
  • Community case management
  • Nicaragua
  • policy analysis
  • scaling up implementation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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