Community management of acute malnutrition

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Community management of acute malnutrition

Concern, in association with Valid International, has pioneered an approach to dealing with acute malnutrition.

A young girl in Giarra Clinic, Ethiopia, eating some ready-to-use-thereapeutic food. June 26, 2008. Photo: Julien Behal/PA This approach, called community management of acute malnutrition (CMAM), has proved to be extremely effective, so much so that it is now becoming the preferred approach to tackling malnutrition. It used to be known as community therapeutic care or CTC, prior to 2011.

 

Before the development of CMAM, the traditional way of treating malnutrition was through therapeutic feeding centres: large centres where patients are admitted for an average of 30 days. Carers of malnourished children often have to travel long distances to access these centres, many having to leave the rest of their children at home for three weeks or longer.

Treating people in their own homes

The central principle of CMAM is to treat malnourished children in their homes. As a result, it inevitably reaches more people than the traditional centre-based schemes.

 

A recent survey in Malawi showed that Concern’s CMAM programme reached three out of four people in need. A traditional feeding programme in an adjacent region only reached around one in four.

Ready-to-use food

Children who have been admitted to our programme are provided with weekly medical treatment and given one week's supply of therapeutic food to take home. This vitamin-enriched food, called ready-to-use-therapeutic-food, is the key to success.

As it is oil-based, it has a huge advantage over traditional water-based mixtures. Even someone with no access to clean water can use it to nurse a malnourished child back to health.

Quality care

A family whose child is attending our programme will also get visits every week from community volunteers and local Concern outreach staff. This way the child’s health is monitored, and the family is given tips on everything from breast feeding to personal hygiene.

Wider acceptance

The success of the CMAM approach has recently become more widely recognised. A number of UN organisations have now committed to using it. They have also recommended that governments should incorporate CMAM into their health and nutrition policies.

A new approach

One child dies every 10 seconds from problems related to malnutrition. By improving nutrition in the 1,000 days between pregnancy and a child's second birthday, we can help families, communities and countries break the cycle of poverty. Watch the video below to find our more about this new approach.