An electronic application is improving the quality of health care for children under five years old. ALMANACH, short for the Algorithm for the Management of Childhood Illness, is a user-friendly application that can be installed on tablets or smartphone and is being used by nurses and community health extension workers to properly diagnose and treat common childhood diseases.
The application is the brainchild of a partnership involving the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Swiss TPH and the Adamawa State Primary Heath Care Development Agency (ADSPHCDA). ALMANACH is an adaption of the "Integrated Management of Childhood Illness" (IMCI) concept initially developed by WHO/UNICEF, with a wider range of medical options and sensitivity to the cultural context of communities.
The ALMANACH project contributes to the ICRC's broader objective of improving access to quality curative and preventive care to civilians living in areas affected by armed conflict or other situations of violence.
Once the ALMANACH team installs the application on a tablet or smartphone, it takes healthcare workers through a detailed consultation process where information about the conditions and symptoms of a child is collected. It guides users to perform a complete physical examination, prescribe the most effective treatment and follow up plan and refer the child to another health structure if treatment is not available in the facility. It also requests lab tests when necessary. The tool is tailored on medical resources available in the locality, including medicines and laboratory testing.
With ALMANACH, health care workers have recorded higher recovery rates from acute illnesses, rapid detection and treatment of malnutrition and higher detection rates of critical cases for immediate referral to secondary level facilities.
In 2020, a large-scale scientific study conducted by Swiss TPH, ICRC and ADSPHCDA found substantial improvements in facilities using ALMANACH when compared to facilities where the tool was not in use.
Between January and October 2021, over 64,000 children under the age of five years were diagnosed and treated using the ALMANACH.
On 10 November 2021, the ICRC together with Swiss TPH handed over the ALMANACH Project to the ADSPHCDA, and will continue to support the project until 2023.