To ensure that lifesaving services – such as detecting and treating malnutrition – continue safely during the COVID-19 pandemic, nutrition agencies around the world, including Action Against Hunger, have implemented a range of adaptations to their programs.
For example, specific adaptations in managing cases of acute malnutrition that are designed to minimize the risk of transmission of COVID-19 include:
- Applying low- or no-touch detection techniques, including involving parents and caregivers in detecting malnutrition in their own children, to maintain social distance between health workers and patients;
- Conscientiously organizing child and caregiver visits to clinics (e.g. by increasing the number of outpatient days per week) to reduce the size of crowds at clinics; and,
- Delocalizing from centrally-located clinics to dispersed platforms in communities (e.g. with support from community health workers) to ensure continued access to treatment services as well as minimize required travel.
These types adaptations will ensure that critical lifesaving malnutrition treatment services to continue to reach children in need, while helping to keep both staff and community members safe. Further, many such adaptations are not new – they build on evidence generated from previous research, including that conducted by Action Against Hunger, as part of on-going innovation efforts to increase the quality and accessibility of nutrition services.
While COVID-19 presents unique challenges, the now wide-spread implementation of these adaptations also offer a new and unprecedented opportunity to capture lessons learned to inform not only the ongoing response, but how we apply these interventions in the future.
Action Against Hunger, in a coordinated effort with UNICEF and the US Centers for Disease Control, is conducting the Innovations and COVID-19 Adaptations in the Management of Child Wasting Project, a global study to capture adaptations and associated learning over the course of the pandemic. As part of this initiative, we invite organizations around the world to come together a share experiences and resources to:
- Identify and track the modifications implemented during COVID-19;
- Extract learning on the operational implications of the approaches; and,
- Facilitate uptake of this evidence to inform short- and long-term nutrition programming.
Collaboration is critical to the success of this project. If your organization is implementing adaptations in the management of child wasting in outpatient facilities and/or community health worker platforms, we invite you to showcase your work and join forces with us.