Treating SAM with Community Health Workers: the Evidence from Mali and Pakistan
Community Health Workers (CHWs) provide basic health services to people at village level, including maternal and child health education, behavior change, and are trained to screen for, classify and treat the three main diseases directly responsible for childhood deaths: diarrhea, pneumonia and malaria.
Community Health Workers can identify children suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition, but they do not provide treatment themselves, instead referring cases to a health facility offering SAM treatment. For many parents, treatment facilities are far away and the time and financial costs can be prohibitive.
The question for Action Against Hunger was whether Community Health Workers could provide life-saving treatment for SAM in the communities in which they live.
In 2014 Action Against Hunger and the innocent foundation launched a study to explore whether Community Health Workers could successfully treat Severe Acute Malnutrition. The study set out to create a robust and reliable evidence base about the implications and impact of treating SAM as part of integrated Community Case Management (iCCM), the package of child health services provided by Community Health Workers in their communities.