Hospital care for children

This is the second edition of the World Health Organization (WHO) Pocket book of hospital care for children, which was first published in 2005. It is a compilation of the updated WHO guidelines for the management of common childhood illnesses at the first-referral level in low-resource countries. It presents relevant, up-to-date, evidence-based clinical guidelines that can be used by clinicians in their daily work in hospitals with basic laboratory facilities and inexpensive medicines. The guidelines focus on inpatient management of children who are severely ill with conditions that are major causes of childhood mortality, such as neonatal illness, pneumonia, diarrhoea, fever (mainly malaria, meningitis and septicaemia), severe acute malnutrition and HIV/AIDS. It also includes guidance on common surgical problems, appropriate supportive care and monitoring of patients on the ward.

The Pocket book is part of a series of tools for improving the quality of care for severely ill children and is consistent with the Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) guidelines for outpatient management of sick children. It is for use by doctors, senior nurses and other senior health workers who are responsible for the care of young children at the first referral level in developing countries.

The first edition of the Pocket book was reviewed by a WHO guidelines steering committee, which identified those chapters that required updating, comprising:

  • revisions to align the Pocket book with recently published, WHO-approved guidelines; and
  • priorities for which new information had become available, which was collated, analysed and synthesized before updating.

In the first category, recommendations approved by the WHO Guidelines Review Committee were incorporated. The second category required synthesis of evidence and updates consistent with new recommendations. The changes made are therefore based on published WHO guidelines and recommendations as of 2012, which are listed in the bibliography ; in addition, certain subsections were added or removed, others reorganized and some editorial changes made on the basis of feedback from Pocket book users. In response to users’ feedback and the popularity of the first edition, the presentation is similar.

Click on the chapter menus to the left for a drop down menu, or if you want to go to a specific topic the use the search function ("Go") at the top of the page.

To enhance its use and uptake there is also the evidential basis right next to the textual guidelines. By clicking on the Evidence link in the right hand column a short comment about the guideline pops up with a link to the seminal evidence or WHO protocol. 

If you have any ideas on how to improve the online Pocketbook, wish to make comments or provide more up to date evidential basis of the guidelines then

please email:

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