Real-Time Assessments of the Strength of Program Implementation for Community Case Management of Childhood Illness: Validation of a Mobile Phone-Based Method in Malawi

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Health surveillance assistants (HSAs) in Malawi have provided community case management (CCM) since 2008; however, program monitoring remains challenging. Mobile technology holds the potential to improve data, but rigorous assessments are few. This study tested the validity of collecting CCM implementation strength indicators through mobile phone interviews with HSAs. This validation study compared mobile phone interviews with information obtained through inspection visits. Sensitivity and specificity were measured to determine validity. Using mobile phones to interview HSAs on CCM implementation strength indicators produces accurate information. For deployment, training, and medicine stocks, the specificity and sensitivity of the results were excellent (> 90%). The sensitivity and specificity of this method for drug stock-outs, supervision, and mentoring were lower but with a few exceptions, still above 80%. This study provided a rigorous assessment of the accuracy of implementation strength data collected through mobile technologies and is an important step forward for evaluation of public health programs.

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