Managing acute malnutrition

Plan aims to decrease child mortality and improve the survival of children below 5 years of age

By Precious B. Llasos

To help fight against the growing number of malnutrition in the Philippines, the World Food Programme (WFP) recently partnered with the Department of Health (DOH) to launch the first national guidelines on managing Moderate Acute Malnutrition (MAM) to children under five years of age.

WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency that fights hunger worldwide, delivers food assistance in emergencies, and works with communities to progress nutrition and build resilience.

WFP and DOH presented the 142-page manual that contains a guideline on how to discourse the causes, treatment, and prevention methods of moderate acute malnutrition or wasting for frontline health and nutrition workers.

Furthermore, the guidelines focus on the “All for Health towards Health for All” agenda of the DOH which supports the implementation of the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition (PPAN) 2017-2022. The said plan aims to lessen acute malnutrition, decrease child mortality and improve the survival of children below 5 years of age.

According to WFP Philippines Country Director ad interim, Martin Betteley, their strategic collaboration with DOH was a key to producing a manual that comes in handy for both decision-makers and for healthcare providers, who will help improve the nutrition of Filipino children through quality and childcare practices.

Based on a report from National Nutrition Survey by the Food and Nutrition Research in Institute (FNRI), there are about one million Filipino children suffering from acute malnutrition.

Acute malnutrition is caused by a rapid loss of weight due to illness, reduced food intake, and inappropriate childcare practices that may lead to have a higher risk of child mortality associated with nutrition related deaths.

Betteley also added that the Philippines is currently ranked in 10th among countries in the world with the highest number of malnourished children, based on data from the United Nations Children’s Fund.

After the launch, regional focal persons received technical briefing and training for them to ensure that proper interventions for acute malnutrition will be given to the work plans of their respective agencies.