Scaling-up the Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI) strategy, Expanded Programme of Immunization (EPI) and improved infant feeding practices have contributed to a decline in child mortality in Zambia. Despite this progress, documentation on EPI and common childhood illnesses that are addressed in IMCI in the two districts where the study was conducted are scanty. The report below highlights findings on immunization and health status of children aged from birth-23 in two districts of Zambia, Kafue and Mazabuka. A cross-sectional study was conducted among 634 caretakers of children. Proportions were compared using the Chi-squared test at the 5% significance level. A total of 634 caretakers of children less than 2 years (from birth 23 months) were interviewed: 270 from Mazabuka and 364 from Kafue. The commonest symptoms reported in Mazabuka and Kafue were diarrhoea (50.6 vs. 37.7%), fever (48.2 vs. 33.1%), and cough (45.0 vs. 48.2%), respectively. Majority (95.4% in Mazabuka and 91.0% in Kafue) were reported sleeping with the children under the ITNs. From the cards, 70.9% of the children had received all the vaccines. Majority of children were not malnourished. Thirty percent were exclusively breastfed up to six months. This study showed a high prevalence of diarrhoea, fever and pneumonia. These common causes of illnesses in children in the two districts are those addressed in the IMCI strategy. Access to at least one vaccine was found to be optimal, but continuous utilisation for the national immunization schedule fell below the national targets and this gap needs to be addressed.
Key words: Diarrhoea, pneumonia, malaria, Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI) strategy, immunization.
ANC, Antenatal care; CSO, central statistics office; EPI, expanded programme on immunization; FGD, focus group discussion; IMCI, integrated management of childhood illnesses; ITNs, insecticide-treated nets; RED, reaching every district; TFI, task force on immunization; UFC, under-five card.
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