BASICS Guatemala: Integrated Management of Childhood Illness

In 1997-98, through the BASICS Project, the Manoff Group worked in western Guatemala with a large group of international and local PVOs to strengthen facility-based and Community IMCI (Integrated Management of Childhood Illness). We organized and managed rapid, in-depth formative research on child health and nutrition—in-depth interviews and household observations, followed by trials of improved practices (TIPs). The findings—which included the important information that most mothers moved their babies directly from a liquid diet to an adult diet, without the intermediate step of giving soft weaning foods—were used (with full PVO staff participation) to draft behavior-change strategies and communication materials. These were then thoroughly pretested, first with indigenous community health volunteers, then with mothers and volunteers. We oversaw the finalization, production, and distribution of materials as well as training of numerous PVO staff in their intended use. Materials, all of which were produced in "indigenous" and "ladino" (mestizo) versions, included:
  • A flipchart to aid community workers to provide individually tailored counseling to mothers on child health and nutrition
  • A small, illustrated "recipe book" for health workers and mothers containing simple combinations of healthy, available foods for babies six months and older
  • A guide for community workers and groups on how to organize community dramas and follow-up discussions on child-health topics
  • An innovative set of prescription pad-like sheets to aid facility-based staff in counseling caregivers of sick children and for the caregivers to take home as reminders of how and for how long to give medicine, how to give food and liquids to a sick child, and what danger signs should trigger an immediate return to the health facility.