Handbook on Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) by: WHO/Unicef

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 counseling of caretakers, and speeds up the referral of severely ill children. In the home setting, it promotes appropriate care seeking behaviors, improved nutrition and preventative care, and the correct implementation of prescribed care.

Why is IMCI better than single-condition approaches?

Children brought for medical treatment in the developing world are often suffering from more than one condition, making a single diagnosis impossible. IMCI is an integrated strategy, which takes into account the variety of factors that put children at serious risk. It ensures the combined treatment of the major childhood illnesses, emphasizing prevention of disease through immunization and improved nutrition.

Handbook Overview

The IMCI model handbook (published in 2005) provides a detailed explanation of the IMCI case management guidelines. It is organized into seven main parts: overview of the IMCI process; assess and classify the sick child age 2 months up to 5 years; assess and classify the sick young infant age 1 week up to 2 months; identify treatment; treat the sick child or the sick young infant; communicate and counsel; and give follow-up care.

Teaching institutions are advised to adapt the handbook in two ways:

  • to ensure that all text, charts and illustrations are consistent with nationally-adapted IMCI clinical guidelines, and
  • to ensure that its content and format corresponds to the teaching approach used by the institution.

Know more about the IMCI handbook

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