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close this bookFact sheet No 178: Reducing Mortality from Major Killers of Children - Revised September 1998 (WHO, 1998, 7 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentIntegrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI)
View the documentPneumonia: correct management could save over 1 million lives per year
View the documentDiarrhoea: correct management could save nearly 1.8 million lives per year
View the documentMeasles: effective prevention and treatment could save 700 000 lives per year
View the documentMalaria: correct management could save 500 000 lives per year
View the documentMalnutrition: improved feeding practices could save 800 000 lives per year
View the documentOther prevention activities
View the documentResearch and development
View the documentImproving health systems
View the documentImproving health worker skills
View the documentImproving family practices


Revised September 1998

Each year, more than eleven million children die from the effects of disease and inadequate nutrition. In some countries, more than one in five children die before they reach their fifth birthday, and many of those who do survive are unable to grow and develop to their full potential.

Seven out of 10 of childhood deaths in developing countries can be attributed to just five main causes, or often to a combination of them: pneumonia, diarrhoea, measles, malaria and malnutrition. Around the world, three out of every four children seen by health services are suffering from at least one of these conditions.

While a great deal has been learned from disease-specific control programmes during the past 15 years, the challenge remained how to combine the lessons learned into a single method for more efficient and effective management of childhood illness. WHO, in collaboration with UNICEF, responded by jointly developing an approach called Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI).

The World Bank's World Development Report 1993 describes the Integrated Management of Childhood Illness as the intervention likely to have the greatest impact in reducing the global burden of disease. It is also among the most cost-effective health interventions in low- and middle-income countries. Indeed, adoption and implementation of this approach are now deemed essential to reaching the goal set by the 1990 World Summit for Children of reducing childhood mortality by 50% by the year 2000.