1.4 million children are suffering from severe acute malnutrition in the Sahel, according to figures from ECHO and UNICEF. ALIMA is exploring new ways of working with mothers to help diagnose malnutrition in their children earlier by simplifying screening procedures.
Despite advances in medical strategies, too many children still arrive at our medical facilities in critical condition because their malnutrition is diagnosed too late.
To avoid this, ALIMA is trying new ways to diagnose children faster. Normally, community health workers use a color-coded bracelet called “MUAC” to periodically measure the middle upper arm circumference of children aged 6 months to 5 years. It is a relatively simple procedure that can be easily learned with a few minutes of instruction.
ALIMA recognized that mothers themselves could learn this procedure. ALIMA trained nearly 50,000 mothers to screen their children for malnutrition using the MUAC bracelet. Mothers were advised to measure the arm circumference of their children every two weeks and when the child seems sick.
Where mothers were trained to detect malnutrition, ALIMA observed that mothers brought their children to the health center as soon as the child’s arm circumference decreased. Children arrived in a less critical state of malnutrition and got treated more quickly than in areas where they had to wait until the community health worker passed by to be screened.
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