Principal Investigator: Susan Shepherd, ALIMA & Renaud Becquet, INSERM
The study in Niger aims to investigate the effectiveness of a mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC)-based protocol for the treatment of severe and moderate acute malnutrition in a single protocol in young children, compared to the standard protocol. The study will address a significant evidence gap about the treatment of acute malnutrition, and how this can be carried out in a more effective manner that enables children to be treated earlier and more children to be reached.
Findings will be highly applicable to other settings, especially in Francophone West Africa where there are multiple countries which have recurrent malnutrition crises. The study will make an important contribution to the global evidence base on the effectiveness of protocols which integrate severe and moderate acute malnutrition treatment, where multiple studies are likely to be needed to counter the potential institutional opposition to diverging from existing protocols.
Providing treatment to acutely malnourished children saves lives, but with current strategies less than 25% of children in need of nutritional care actually receive it. We need to be creative in developing new strategies that will expand access, be easy for health workers to implement and above all, place families and malnourished children at the centre of care. And we must back it up with science: prove that MUAC-based strategies find children earlier than current practice and are more efficient.
In this individually randomized nutrition trial, all children 6-59m in selected villages will be screened monthly to identify those who meet inclusion criteria. These children will be referred to the health centre for consent and inclusion, where each study participant will either be prescribed Ready-to-use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) (if eligible according to his/her randomisation arm), or monitored bi-monthly for health and nutrition status (if not RUTF-eligible) for a period of 6 months.
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