To appraise the effectiveness of the pneumonia case-management strategy in improving child survival, we have done a meta-analysis of six published intervention trials. The results of a seventh published study and two unpublished studies were also reviewed. The six published studies satisfied our criteria for methodological soundness. The reduction in mortality rate (control group minus intervention group) was estimated for each study, and for all the studies together. For total infant mortality, the overall reduction was 15·9 (95% confidence interval 10·6-21·1) deaths per 1000 livebirths; infant mortality due to acute lower respiratory infection was reduced by 10·7 (4·8-16·7) deaths/1000 livebirths. Mortality among children under 5 years was decreased by 36 deaths/1000 livebirths. The pooled estimates of relative risk are consistent with a 20% reduction in infant mortality and a 25% reduction in under-5 mortality. There was no clear association across the studies between the effect of the pneumonia case-management and extent of co-interventions such as immunisation and oral rehydration therapy. The consistency of findings of all the studies, despite differences in design and methods, shows that the case-management strategy has a substantial effect on infant and under-5 mortality, at least in settings with infant mortality rates of 90/1000 livebirths or more. It is important to find out the most efficient ways of implementing this strategy and integrating it into primary health care.
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