A new study by Action Against Hunger and partners indicates that mothers can use a simple armband/tape (MUAC tape) measurement tool to accurately screen their children for acute malnutrition.
Mothers are powerful. We have always known it. So we are happy to share some important new findings.
For nearly forty years, in our efforts to enable communities to be free from hunger, Action Against Hunger has sought to empower mothers and caregivers to understand the warning signs of acute malnutrition—and make sure they know when and where to take their children for screening and treatment for malnutrition.
Over the years, we have trained thousands of frontline community health workers to bring screening services directly to remote, hard-to-reach villages. But there often aren’t enough community health workers to reach every child in need and detect acute malnutrition early, before it becomes severe—an essential key to saving children’s lives.
So, in a new research project in Kenya, we went a step further. We aimed to bring screening even closer to home: launching a project to explore how accurately mothers and caregivers could classify their children’s nutritional status without relying on a community health worker.
The most common method used to screen for acute malnutrition in communities involves what looks like a simple measuring tape. The mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) tape is a long, colour-coded strip marked with graduated measurements. If the measurement of the girth of a child’s mid-upper arm is within the yellow part of the band, it indicates that the child is suffering from moderate acute malnutrition. If the measurement falls within the red part of the band, it indicates that the child is suffering from life threatening, severe acute malnutrition.
Measuring a child’s mid-upper arm circumference with a color-coded, graduated band is a cheap and simple way to detect undernutrition.
Photo: Christophe Da Silva