Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI): a robust strategy

Indian J Pediatr. 2002 Jan;69(1):41-8. doi: 10.1007/BF02723776.


Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI), a strategy fostering holistic approach to child health and development, is built upon successful experiences gained from effective child health interventions like immunization, oral rehydration therapy, management of acute respiratory infections and improved infant feeding. The core intervention of IMCI is integrated management of the five most important causes of childhood deaths-acute respiratory infections, diarrheal diseases, measles, malaria and malnutrition. Using a set of interventions for the integrated treatment and prevention of major childhood illnesses, the IMCI strategy aims to reduce death as well as the frequency and severity of illness and disability, thus contributing to improved growth and development. In health facilities, the IMCI strategy promotes the accurate identification of childhood illness (es) in the outpatient settings, ensures appropriate combined treatment of all major illnesses, strengthens the counselling of caretakers and the provision of preventive services, and speeds up the referral of severely ill children. The strategy also aims to improve the quality of care of sick children at the referral level. It also creates a scientifically sound link between the management guidelines at the community level and the management approach in a referral centre. The strategy also envisages actual situations when referral is not possible and offers the best possible options in such circumstances. In the home setting, it promotes appropriate early home care and care-seeking, improved nutrition and prevention, and the correct implementation of prescribed care. In addition to its focus on treatment of illness in the health facility as well as at home, it also provides an opportunity for important preventive interventions such as immunization and improved infant and child nutrition including breastfeeding. The IMCI strategy reduces wastage of resources and avoids duplication of efforts that may occur in a series of separate disease control programs. The essential pillars include improvement in the case management skills of health personnel, improvement in health systems, and improvement in family and community practices. IMCI has been introduced in more than 80 countries and 19 of them have already scaled up IMCI implementation Even though it is too early to relate the decrease in childhood mortality with the introduction of IMCI in these countries, there are several indirect indicators which endorse its validity as a comprehensive and effective strategy. IMCI has helped countries to revise and update their child health policies, streamline the essential drug lists for children, increase service utilization, improve quality of care and nutritional counselling, improve health systems and improved family and community practices.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Delivery of Health Care, Integrated / organization & administration*
  • Developing Countries
  • Disease Management
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • National Health Programs / organization & administration*
  • Public Health Practice