Developing low-cost universal malnutrition screening for low income countries
BACKGROUND: Acute malnutrition affects 52 million children, costs the global economy $2.1 trillion, and contributes to 45% of deaths among children under five years of age annually. Malnutrition programs currently rely on community health volunteers to screen children, which can lead to high costs, low screening coverage, and late identification.
GAP: Current screening strategies fail to identify children with malnutrition and provide them cost-effective treatment. The “Maternal Administered Malnutrition Monitoring System” (MAMMS) may be a scalable childhood growth monitoring system that could enable nutrition programs in low- and middle-income countries to optimize screening coverage, leading to early identification of malnutrition, lower costs and a reduction in global under-five mortality.
HYPOTHESIS: The MAMMS intervention will be associated with i) early identification and treatment of acute malnutrition in young children; ii) accurate MUAC assessment between mothers and community health volunteers; and iii) lower cost-per-malnutrition case identified.
METHODS: We propose to test MAMMS in a randomized controlled trial in Kenya. Mothers will be taught to measure their child’s MUAC at 6 or 9-month immunization visits and during 6-month follow up they will receive a weekly SMS message prompting them to measure and send their child’s MUAC to a computer system which will alert a health worker when a child with malnutrition is identified.
IMPACT: The MAMMS system may allow providers to identify children before they become malnourished rather than waiting for the child to cross into a high-risk nutritional state. Increased screening coverage and early identification of childhood acute malnutrition through the MAMMS platform could facilitate reductions in malnutrition-associated mortality and reduce the cost per child treated for national nutrition programs.