Experiences of training and implementation of integrated management of childhood illness (IMCI) in South Africa: A qualitative evaluation of the IMCI case management training course
Centre for Rural Health, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Umbilo Road, Durban 4013, South Africa; Department of Public Health, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Umbilo Road, Durban 4013, South Africa; Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Umbilo Road, Durban 4013, South Africa; Department of Child and Adolescent Health and Development, World Health Organization, 20 Avenue Appia 1211, Geneva 27, Switzerland
Background: Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) is a strategy to reduce mortality and morbidity in children under-5 years by improving management of common illnesses at primary level. IMCI has been shown to improve health worker performance, but constraints have been identified in achieving sufficient coverage to improve child survival, and implementation remains sub-optimal. At the core of the IMCI strategy is a clinical guideline whereby health workers use a series of algorithms to assess and manage a sick child, and give counselling to carers. IMCI is taught using a structured 11-day training course that combines classroom work with clinical practise; a variety of training techniques are used, supported by comprehensive training materials and detailed instructions for facilitators. Methods: We conducted focus group discussions with IMCI trained health workers to explore their experiences of the methodology and content of the IMCI training course, whether they thought they gained the skills required for implementation, and their experiences of follow-up visits. Results: Health workers found the training interesting, informative and empowering, and there was consensus that it improved their skills in managing sick children. They appreciated the variety of learning methods employed, and felt that repetition was important to reinforce knowledge and skills. Facilitators were rated highly for their knowledge and commitment, as well as their ability to identify problems and help participants as required. However, health workers felt strongly that the training time was too short to acquire skills in all areas of IMCI. Their increased confidence in managing sick children was identified by health workers as an enabling factor for IMCI implementation in the workplace, but additional time required for IMCI consultations was expressed as a major barrier. Although follow-up visits were described as very helpful, these were often delayed and there was no ongoing clinical supervision. Conclusion: The IMCI training course was reported to be an effective method of acquiring skills, but more time is required, either during the course, or with follow-up, to improve IMCI implementation. Innovative solutions may be required to ensure that adequate skills are acquired and maintained. © 2009 Horwood et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
article; case management; child care; child health care; childhood disease; consensus development; consultation; controlled study; follow up; health care personnel; health care planning; health education; human; information processing; learning style; problem identification; professional knowledge; skill; South Africa; training; work experience; workplace; Case Management; Child; Delivery of Health Care, Integrated; Education, Professional; Health Policy; Humans; Pediatrics; Program Evaluation; Quality of Health Care; South Africa