2098 lives saved from Severe Acute Malnutrition

Action Against Hunger’s objective is to contribute to the reduction of acute malnutrition related mortality and morbidity in children up to five years of age. We have been conducting integrated programs on nutrition and care practices in 149 villages in Khaknar block in Burhanpur district of Madhya Pradesh and are soon expanding to cover five other districts-  Dhar, Panna, Sheopur, Umariya and Singroli.

Acute malnutrition occurs when the body is not supplied with enough food and nutrients and consumes its energy reserves beginning with muscle and fat. It was heart breaking to see that Burhanpur has a total of 4.7% of children under five years of age who suffer from the deadly condition of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM), according to a survey undertaken by us.

Our intervention programs in Burhanpur included detection of SAM and MAM (Moderate Acute Malnutrition) children and we mobilized our resources to create awareness among the local communities about what is malnutrition, teach them hygiene, good eating habits, basic counselling on balanced nutrition, work with pregnant and lactating women and adolescents on best practices and so on.

We recorded and detected 2098 children as being SAM (Severe Acute Malnutrition) between January 2013 and January 2015. We referred them to the Nutrition Rehabilitation Centre (NRC) for treatment. Action Against Hunger supports the NRCs through capacity building and on-the job supervision, in order to provide appropriate treatment for SAM children.  

But it is not enough to just detect  a SAM child and treat him / her at the local NRC, as the risk of a relapse is high. We therefore undertake several activities to include the following :

  • Detection (screening) and Referral: includes screening children with MUAC [Mid Upper Arm Circumference] and looking for signs of Oedema and referring the severe cases to NRCs. Followed by this, a minimum of 4 follow-ups for 2 months is planned when the SAM / MAM child is discharged from the NRC.
  • Capacity building: includes training of community mobilisers, NRC staff, Field supervisors, Anganwadi workers (AWW), ASHAs (Accredited Social Health Activist) , ANMs ( Auxiliary Nursing Midwifery) on acute malnutrition, screening and how to improve the quality of treatment in the facility. So far, we have trained 400 government frontline workers for this project. Our project is completely integrated within the government system and therefore is sustainable.
  • Meetings with Village Health Nutrition and Sanitation Committee (VHNSC)- over 200 meetings have been co-facilitated by our field teams in the Khaknar block, Burhanpur.
  • Community information sessions with caregivers and pregnant and lactating women – over 1500 sessions have been held on awareness on malnutrition and its ill-effects.
  • Demonstrations on making ORS (Oral Rehydration Solution), cooking demonstrations, water, sanitation and hygiene, toy making and baby massage for child stimulation  : over 900 such demonstrations have been conducted 
  • Distribution of food baskets to our beneficiaries so as to incentivize their stay in NRCs and to have regular follow-ups has also been a part of our day to day activities. 

A Nutritional Causal Analysis was conducted in the Khaknar block between April-August 2014 to provide a deeper  understanding on the possible causes of under nutrition. Results showed that factors leading to a child’s deteriorating health included poor access to food, poor diet diversity, inadequate access to water, poor psychosocial care of children, low birth weight, inappropriate breast feeding practices and inappropriate complementary feeding practices.

We have a vision to expand our reach and eradicate child deaths due to hunger. Towards this, we have signed a Memorandum of Understanding ( MoU) between National Health Mission ( NHM) Madhya Pradesh Government, ACF India ( our technical partenrs) and ourselves to step up our efforts towards  detection, prevention and treatment for Severe Acute Malnutrition in Madhya Pradesh. 

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