IMCI (Integrated Management of Childhood Illness)

Community health worker (CHW) interventions to manage childhood illness is a strategy promoted by the global health community, which involves training and supporting CHW to assess, classify, and treat sick children at home. To inform CHW policy, the Government of Tanzania launched a program in 2011 to determine if community case management (CCM) of malaria, pneumonia, and diarrhea could be implemented by CHW in that country. This paper reports the results of an observational study on the CCM service delivery quality of a trial cohort of CHW in Tanzania, called WAJA. In the majority of cases, WAJA correctly assess sick children for CCM-treatable illnesses (malaria, pneumonia, and diarrhea) and general danger signs (90% and 89%, respectively), but too few correctly assess for physical danger signs (39%). In majority of cases (78%) WAJA treated children correctly (84% of malaria, 74% pneumonia, and 71% diarrhea cases). Errors were often associated with lapses in health systems support, mainly supervision and logistics. For CCM to be effective, in Tanzania, a strategy to implement it must be coordinated with efforts to strengthen local health systems.

To determine if children presenting without complaints related to the Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) are at greater risk for suboptimal screening for IMCI conditions, we randomly sampled and observed 3072 sick child visits in 33 provinces of Afghanistan. The study indicated that children with non-IMCI complaints are at greater risk of suboptimal screening compared to children with IMCI-related complaints. We concluded that facility and provider capacity needs to be improved, particularly during training, supervision and guideline dissemination, to ensure that all children receive routine screening for common IMCI conditions.

Given similar performance and knowledge of health workers trained in 7-day and 11-day courses, potential cost savings, the possibility of training more health workers and the relative ease with which health workers in remote settings might participate in a short course, it seems prudent to standardize the 7-day course in Afghanistan, where child mortality rates remain unacceptably high.

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