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Fact Sheet

What is IMCI?

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IMCI was first developed in 1992 by UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) with the aim of prevention, or early detection and treatment of the leading childhood killers.

The IMCI initiative adopted a broad, cross-cutting approach recognizing that in most cases, more than one underlying cause contributes to the illness of the child. A great deal has been learned from disease-specific control programmes over the past 15 years. IMCI attempts to combine the lessons learned into an effective approach for managing the sick child.

While the management of childhood illness focuses on treatment, it also provides the opportunity to emphasize prevention of illness through education on the importance of immunization, micronutrient supplementation, and improved nutrition – especially
oral rehydration therapy (ORT), breastfeeding and infant feeding. IMCI seeks to reduce childhood mortality and morbidity by improving family and community practices for the home management of illness, and improving case management of skills of health workers in the wider health system.

Key factors in the child’s immediate environment – nutrition, hygiene, immunizations - are as important as medical treatment in improving health.  IMCI is the umbrella through which all community health interventions can be delivered to the child.