Impact of a community-based integrated management of childhood illnesses.
Department of Public Health Sciences, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 28223-0001, USA. email@example.com
BACKGROUND: Maternal and child health status in the Martuni region of Gegharkunik marz, Armenia, precipitously declined following Armenia's independence in 1991. In response, the American Red Cross (ARC) and the Armenian Red Cross Society (ARCS) implemented the WHO community-level Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI) strategy, complementing recent clinical IMCI training in the region in which 387 community health volunteers from 16 villages were trained as peer educators, and approximately 5000 caretakers of children under age 5 were counselled on key nutrition and health practices. METHODS: A pre-post independent sample design was used to assess the programme's impact. The evaluation instrument collected respondent demographic characteristics and knowledge, attitudes and practices consistent with 10 health indicators typical of child survival interventions. At baseline and at follow-up, 300 mothers were interviewed using a stratified simple random sampling of households with at least one child less than age 2. RESULTS: The assessment confirmed the population's poor health status and limited knowledge and application of recommended child care practices. The campaign reached its target: at follow-up, 67% had seen media messages within the past month, 82% had received the IMCI informational booklet, and 30% had seen other materials. Evidence of the success of the programme included the following: exclusive breastfeeding increased 31.4%, maternal knowledge of child illness signs increased 30%, knowledge of HIV increased 28.5%, and physician attended deliveries increased 15%. CONCLUSIONS: This evaluation documented the significant and substantial impact of the community IMCI programme on both knowledge and practice in rural areas of Armenia. Consideration should be given to continuing and expanding this project as a complement to health sector development activities in this region.
PMID: 19147699 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]