Community health workers addressing actue malnutrition: from idea to reality

World hunger remains a scourge and a huge challenge, affecting more than 700 million people, with the most serious consequences leading to the death of those who suffer from it. Some 8,500 children die every day from undernutrition, accounting for almost half of all deaths of children under five.

Acute malnutrition represents the most dramatic face of child undernutrition, with a 12-fold increase in the risk of death in severe cases, and continues to threaten the lives of an estimated 6.8% of children under five worldwide.

A highly effective treatment for severe acute malnutrition (SAM) is now available. This involves providing children diagnosed with SAM Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF), which consists
of an energy- and nutrient-rich peanut paste, to children for a period of 6-8 weeks. If the child is diagnosed with SAM without complications, which is the case in 85% of cases, treatment is administered in health centres. Only in the remaining 15%, when there are complications, it is necessary to treat the child at hospital.

Between 80-84% of children with SAM who have received treatment are cured of the disease. More than two-thirds of the 45 million children suffering from acute malnutrition do not have access to treatment. This is due to a variety of reasons ranging from stock shortages of RUTF, to economic, social, or geographical barriers to accessing health facilities. Within the variety of African countries where we work, more than 50% of the population lives more than 5km from a health centre, and roads are dangerous or impassable at certain times of the year. In addition, travelling to the centre on a weekly basis is difficult when mothers, who are usually responsible for taking their children to treatment, also have to ensure the livelihoods of the family and take care of the other children.


About this document

Section: Key Documents Technical

Location: Global

Type: Report

Language: English

Key Information

Faced with these difficulties, in 2014, we set ourselves the challenge of improving the coverage of nutrition-related services. To this end, working hand in hand with communities where malnutrition is a problem, we launched a project in which research and innovation have been key.

Author: Action Against Hunger

Year Published: 2024
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