Managing Acute MalnutritionEn Français
SAHEL CRISIS UPDATE
After erratic rains in 2011, the Sahel region in West Africa is suffering from severe drought for the third time in the last decade. More than 18.7 million people lack access to sufficient food and more than 1 million children under the age of 5 are at risk of dying from malnutrition. Helen Keller International is working with government, partners and communities to respond to this crisis by supporting community rehabilitation programs for malnourished children. To help our life-saving efforts, please donate today.
- Malnutrition affects billions of children and adults in the developing world. It is the single biggest contributor to child mortality, and is implicated in the deaths of nearly 10,000 children every day.
- In emergency settings, malnutrition was often treated in temporary feeding centers built and managed by outside organizations that attempted to treat all cases of acute malnutrition irrespective of severity.
- This approach caused overcrowded centers where infections spread rapidly.
What HKI Is Doing
In response to Niger’s food crisis in 2005, in our efforts to prevent and treat malnutrition, Helen Keller International applied Valid International’s approach of Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) - which enables communities and lower level health facilities to treat the vast majority of cases and reserves in-patient care for only those with critical complications – and improved upon it by building the capacity to deliver this approach within existing government and community structures.
- CMAM has been integrated into existing child survival and malnutrition prevention programs, providing a holistic approach to managing acute malnutrition. HKI’s approach uses existing community structures, trains community members to identify and handle treatable cases of acute malnutrition (instead of relying on externally managed programs), and minimizes the time most afflicted mothers and children must be kept in the centers, away from home.
- Helen Keller International also integrates with treatment the Essential Nutrition Actions framework to guide the development and dissemination of preventive practices, such as optimal breastfeeding and complementary feeding.
- Consistent with the CMAM approach, only cases of severe malnutrition that involve complications are kept in health centers or hospitals, while children with appetites receive outpatient care from caretakers who are provided with Ready-to-Use-Therapeutic Foods (RUTF), such as Plumpy’Nut®, as well as medication and instructions for in-home treatment of acute malnutrition.
- Plumpy’Nut® and related RUTF products are nutrient-rich pastes that are specifically designed for the treatment of severe malnutrition. They are easy to store in the home with minimal risk of contamination, and can be fed to children directly from the foil package with no further preparation required.
- By reducing the number of cases that are required to be treated at in-patient facilities, the likeliness of infection and the financial and social burden to most families also reduces.
HKI helped government partners in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger develop national protocols for managing acute malnutrition, thus strengthening the health system’s self-sufficiency in managing treatment efforts in each country. HKI is currently developing a web-based database to improve HKI’s monitoring and reporting of health center results.
For the future, Helen Keller International is focusing on ensuring that knowledge and skills of managing acute malnutrition is reinforced and retained in the health system, and conducting research into how to improve the dietary contents of supplementary food for moderately malnourished children. In addition, we are identifying more effective channels for treating or preventing malnutrition as early as possible.
- Recent News
- "Niger Determined to Continue Efforts Against Child Malnutrition"
- "Shawn Baker of Helen Keller International on nutrition"
- "Niger Responds to Acute Malnutrition"
- Key Publications
- - Diagnostic performance of visible severe wasting for identifying severe acute malnutrition in children admitted to hospital in Kenya. - Mid-upper arm circumference and weight-for-height to identify high-risk malnourished under-five children.
- (NNA June 2011_Eng) Screening for acute childhood malnutrition during the National Nutrition Week in Mali increases treatment referrals.
- Screening for Acute Childhood Malnutrition during the National Nutrition Week in Mali Increases Treatment Referrals