Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI)
Every day, millions of parents seek health care for their sick children, taking them to hospitals, health centres, pharmacists, doctors and traditional healers. Surveys reveal that many sick children are not properly assessed and treated by these health care providers, and that their parents are poorly advised. At first-level health facilities in low-income countries, diagnostic supports such as radiology and laboratory services are minimal or non-existent, and drugs and equipment are often scarce. Limited supplies and equipment, combined with an irregular flow of patients, leave health workers at this level with few opportunities to practice complicated clinical procedures. Instead, they often rely on history and signs and symptoms to determine a course of management that makes the best use of the available resources.
These factors make providing quality care to sick children a serious challenge. WHO and UNICEF have addressed this challenge by developing a strategy called the Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI).
What is IMCI?
IMCI is an integrated approach to child health that focuses on the well-being of the whole child. IMCI aims to reduce death, illness and disability, and to promote improved growth and development among children under five years of age. IMCI includes both preventive and curative elements that are implemented by families and communities as well as by health facilities.
The strategy includes three main components:
* Improving case management skills of health-care staff
* Improving overall health systems
* Improving family and community health practices.
In health facilities, the IMCI strategy promotes the accurate identification of childhood illnesses in outpatient settings, ensures appropriate combined treatment of all major illnesses, strengthens the counselling of caretakers, and speeds up the referral of severely ill children. In the home setting,...