RITM leads evaluation of DOH-IMCI program

The Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics (DEBS) of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) together with the Acute Respiratory Illness (ARI) Study Group conducts the first-ever assessment of the status of the Department of Health’s (DOH) Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI) Program.

DOH adopted and started the IMCI pilot project back in 1996 which made Philippines one of the first countries from WHO-Western Pacific Region that implemented the program. The IMCI program combines the delivery of essential interventions at the community, health facility, and health systems levels. It also includes elements of prevention and addresses the most common conditions that affect young children.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) developed the IMCI program in 1995 and was introduced as a major strategy for child survival, growth, and development.

According to RITM DEBS Science Research Specialist II Dr. Mark Donald Reñosa, “IMCI employs a step-by-step algorithm that guides non-physician health workers in resource-poor settings to assess, classify, manage, and treat childhood illnesses. It is being implemented in primary healthcare facilities of various communities nationwide.”

More than two decades in the Philippines, a thorough assessment of whether the IMCI program was effective in addressing childhood illnesses in rural health units and barangay health stations was never conducted.

Therefore, DOH Disease Control Prevention Bureau Director Dr. Joyce Ducusin recommended an extensive evaluation of the IMCI program and tasked RITM to lead the investigation.

“This is an important undertaking because we need to determine if the existing program delivers what it promises to grassroots communities and if it directs us to our aspiration in attaining developmental goals for our country,” Dr. Reñosa explained.

RITM-DEBS and the ARI Study Group have already developed data collection forms and is currently finalizing the assessment protocol of the project for submission to RITM’s Institutional Review Board.

Dr. Reñosa mentioned that the group plans to start its nationwide evaluation in the regions of Northern and Southern Luzon, National Capital Region, Visayas, and Mindanao by August. The group also hopes to disseminate initial results to DOH, partners, and stakeholders by the end of the year.

by Allenor Enciso, Communication and Engagement Office[RITM Web Team]