Addressing malnutrition among children in routine care: how is the Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses strategy implemented at health centre level in Burundi?

M. Nimpagaritse, C. Korachais, G. Nsengiyumva, J. Macq and B. Meessen.

BMC Nutrition, 2019



The Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) strategy was adopted in Burundi in 2003. Our aim was to evaluate to what extent the malnutrition component of the IMCI guidelines is implemented at health facilities level.


We carried out direct observations of curative outpatient consultations for children aged 6–59 months in 90 health centres selected randomly. We considered both the child and the health worker (HW) as units of analysis and used bivariate analysis to explore characteristics of HWs associated with tasks systematically or never performed.


A total of 514 consultations carried out by 145 HWs were observed. Among the 250 children under two years, less than 30% were asked questions on breastfeeding. None of them had all seven nutrition-related questions asked to their caregivers and none of the 200 children over the age of two years had all five nutrition-related questions asked to their caregivers. Only 13 cases (3%) had all of the six examinations/tasks (weight, height/length, mid-upper arm circumference, oedema, filling in and discussing the growth curve and calculating the weight for height z-score) performed as part of their care. 393 cases (76%) reported that they had not being given any nutrition advice.
With regards to HWs, among 99 of them who had received children under two, only 21 (21.2%)[14.2–30.5%) systematically asked the question regarding ‘ongoing breastfeeding’.
Only 56 (38.6%)[31–46.9%] weighed or discussed the weight taken prior the consultation for each child they reviewed, only 38 (26.2%)[19.6–34.1%] measured the height/length or discussed it for each child reviewed and 23 (15.9%)[10.7–22.8%] performed (systematically?) the WHZ-score.
More than 50% never gave nutrition advices to any child reviewed.
HWs who daily manage severe acute malnutrition were the most likely to systematically ask the question regarding ‘ongoing breastfeeding’ and to perform a ‘weight examination’. Those who had not received supervision visit on the topic of malnutrition predominantly never performed a ‘weight examination’. The ‘height/length’ examination’ was predominantly performed by female HWs and those who have ‘contract with the government.


This study has found poor compliance by HWs to IMCI in Burundi. This indicates that a substantial proportion of children do not receive early and appropriate care, especially that pertaining to malnutrition. This alarming situation calls for strong action by actors committed to child health in the country.

Trial registration:

Clinical Identifier: NCT02721160; March 2016 (retrospectively registered).


Malnutrition, IMCI, Health Centre, Burundi, Implementation research

Télécharger le pdf