Today, over 50 million children suffer from wasting – the most severe form of malnutrition – yet less than 20 percent of them receive the lifesaving care they need. As a global nutrition community, we are failing to reach the vast majority of wasting children with lifesaving care under current systems for treatment. As ECF CEO, Will Moore, explained in a recent Devex article:
“The current standard approach for treating severe and moderate wasting relies on separate U.N. agencies delivering separate protocols and products, frequently in separate locations,” Will Moore, executive director of the Eleanor Crook Foundation, told Devex via email. “This system is complex and costly, and it puts a tremendous undue burden on the mothers and children who must navigate it to survive.”
In July of 2020, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Action Against Hunger (AAF) released the results of a new study, demonstrating that protocols for wasting treatment can be significantly improved.
The ComPAS: Combined Protocol for Acute Malnutrition study outlines a new, streamlined and more affordable treatment plan for wasted children, eliminating the need for separate products and protocols for treating severe acute malnutrition (SAM) and moderate acute malnutrition (MAM). The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine found that a combined treatment protocol for SAM and MAM was 76.3 percent effective at promoting nutritional recovery, slightly better than the standard treatment’s 73.5 percent. It is the first trial of its kind to use one diagnostic criterion to treat both SAM and MAM, indicating that combined treatment is equally as lifesaving and more cost effective than the current standard of care.
The combined and simplified protocol has the potential to make every dollar spent on wasting treatment go further and save more children. Especially with the anticipated spikes of wasting due to secondary impacts of COVID-19, reforming the current wasting protocol is needed now more than ever. As Moore explained to Devex, “further delays in acting on this growing evidence base would be a detriment to the wasted children around the world who need life-saving treatment today.”
Image 1 – © UNICEF/PATRICIA WILLOCQ