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Community Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) needs to be made central to all the Government efforts to bring down the rising incidence of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) in the country, CMAM Association of India has stated.
Child suffering from SAM
In a communication to the technical group formed under Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Preeti Pant to study the findings of the National Family Health Survey-5, CMAM Association has stated that the use of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTF), as prescribed by the UNICEF and WHO, in a community setting could help bring a large number of SAM afflicted children out of the debilitating disease.
The results of the phase I of the NFHS – 5 have put into sharp relief the need to contain SAM in the country on an urgent basis. There is an increase in the incidence of SAM in 16 out of 22 states and Union Territories. In about 8 states, the incidence of SAM is higher in urban areas than in rural areas.
“Severe Acute Malnutrition is a critical health condition where a child is 9 times more likely to die as compared to a healthy child. With the increase in incidence of SAM, more children are at risk and need to be managed urgently. COVID-19 is likely to have further worsened the nutrition levels in the country and brought even more children at risk,” said Akshat Khandelwal, President CMAM Association of India.
While the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has indeed created a network of Nutrition Rehabilitation Centres (NRCs) where SAM children with complications can be treated, more than 85% of SAM children do not develop any complications and, therefore, do not require NRCs. They can be treated effectively in the community through CMAM programs, CMAM Association has stated.
Some states have adopted nutrition intervention for the treatment of SAM children in the community largely involving doubling of Take Home Rations. However, higher quantities of Take Home Rations (which often gets diverted to other members of the family), may not adequately meet the nutritional requirements of the SAM child.
Children suffering from SAM require specific macro and micronutrients in large quantities. However, as they are unable to consume large quantities of food, they need to be provided the nutrients in concentrated forms. Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTF), as prescribed by UNICEF and WHO, are energy dense lipid-based nutrition supplements which make for easy absorption and contain all the nutrients that a SAM child requires. Globally, about 3.5-4 million children are treated annually through CMAM programs by providing RUTF.
The members of the CMAM Association are the leading producers of RUTF in India and have been exporting RUTF to other countries for years. The Association is committed to the Prime Minister’s call for ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’. With a manufacturing capacity of over 20,000 MT of RUTF annually, we can support over 13,50,000 SAM children on a yearly basis. We are also capable of scaling up the manufacturing of different formulations/products which the government believes can help fight SAM, added Akshat Khandelwal.
The association has therefore requested to be recognized as a partner in the government’s drive to eradicate all forms of malnutrition, including severe and moderate acute malnutrition particularly in these times of COVID.