Key assessment and classification elements of the WHO / UNICEF sick child algorithm

QA Brief. 1994 Jan;3(1):19.


PIP: The WHO/UNICEF Sick Child Algorithm, applicable to children 2 months-5 years of age, provides health care professionals with a standardized assessment and classification tool. Children whose caretakers report are unable to drink, having convulsions, or abnormally sleepy or difficult to wake should be referred immediately to a hospital. Otherwise, caretakers should be queried as to whether the child is coughing, has diarrhea, fever, or ear pain/discharge. In cases where the answer is "yes," the algorithm lists further questions that should be asked, signs that should be checked, and clinical procedures followed. Also set forth are classification systems for cough, diarrhea, fever, measles, ear problems, and nutritional status. To check nutritional status, health workers are instructed to weigh the child, calculate weight-for-age, look for eyelid pallor and foamy patches on the white of the eye, identify severe wasting, and examine for edema of the hands and feet.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Ambulatory Care Facilities*
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Child Welfare*
  • Child*
  • Classification*
  • Data Collection
  • Demography
  • Disease
  • Health
  • Health Planning
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Organization and Administration
  • Population
  • Population Characteristics
  • Research
  • Sampling Studies
  • Signs and Symptoms*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*