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Background

The aim of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness and coverage of a simplified protocol that is implemented in health centers (HCs) and health posts (HPs) for children who are suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM) in the humanitarian context of Diffa.

Methods

The research team conducted a non-randomized community-controlled trial. The control group received outpatient treatment for SAM, without medical complications, at HCs and HPs with the standard protocol of community management of acute malnutrition (CMAM). Meanwhile, with respect to the intervention group, the children with SAM received treatment at the HCs and HPs through a simplified protocol wherein the mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) and the presence of edema were used as the admission criteria, and the children with SAM were administered doses of fixed ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF).

Results

A total of 508 children, who were all under 5 years and had SAM, were admitted into the study. The cured proportion was 87.4% in the control group versus 96.6% in the intervention group (p value = 0.001). There was no difference between the groups in the length of stay, which was 35 days, but the intervention group used a lower quantity of RUTF—70 sachets versus 90 sachets, per child cured. Coverage increases were observed in both groups.

Discussion

The simplified protocol used at the HCs and HPs did not result in worse recovery and resulted in fewer discharge errors compared to the standard protocol.

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