A new protocol for improving the management of children with malnutrition
The MSF Foundation is supporting the Opti-MA study run by ALIMA (The Alliance for International Medical Action).
/ Field findings. If not treated early enough, moderate acute malnutrition in children can become severe acute malnutrition, with the risk of complications and hospitalisation.
/ Response. Introduce a new simplified protocol in which mothers measure their child’s mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) at home. This protocol will enable more children to be treated earlier at no added cost. For more information, see the timeline.
A transformational protocol
Which gives mothers or other family members a key role in detecting acute malnutrition in their children by measuring the mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) at home.
Once the findings have been published, the objective will be to introduce this new protocol throughout the Sahel region.
"We have a recovery rate of over 90%. Even for the most malnourished children with a MUAC measurement in the red zone, recovery rates are still over 80%.” Susan Shepherd, operational research coordinator at ALIMA for SciDev.Net
Cost of the project : €1,525,000, including €250,000 from The MSF Foundation
The main steps of the new protocol
Problematic, proposed solution....
1 minute to understand the main steps of the new protocol for the early management of malnutrition.
The admission phase to the study is complete and the project team is now analysing the data before publishing the findings. If these findings confirm the protocol’s effectiveness, the objective will be to advocate for its adoption in all the Sahel countries.
Launched on 1st January 2017, the study was run over a period of 12 months in 54 health centres in Yako health district in the Nord region of Burkina Faso.
5437 children aged from 6 months to 5 years were admitted in the study.
A new protocol
The new protocol involves treating acutely malnourished children with a single therapeutic foodstuff and according to a single anthropometric criterion: a MUAC of less than 125mm.
This innovation should result in earlier treatment for more children and a simpler and more cost-effective management programme for health professionals.
Germaine took part in a training session in her village
“First the trainer showed us how to use the MUAC tape and then we practiced with it. Because of the different colours, it was easy to use, even for those of us who can't read. When you know what to do, it’s really simple.”
Mariama Issoufou, study manager in Burkina Faso
“The difficulties appear later. The tape gets lost or damaged. The mothers are very busy and forget to measure their child’s MUAC regularly. We have trained community health workers to remind mothers to measure their child's MUAC."
The project in the media
Susan Shepherd, paediatrician and operational research coordinator at ALIMA, explains the study to for SciDev.Net.