Follow-up of Acutely Malnourished Children (FUSAM) proves as efficient and cost effective in treating children for under nutrition in Nepal

Dec. 5, 2014, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol: 08 No. -12 December. 5- 2014 (Mansir 19, 2071)

With the number of children under-malnutrition rising, Nepal government has launched different programs in response. However, not all are working equally well. Implemented by French INGO Action Against Hunger International (ACF- International), FUSAM, for one, has proven efficient and effective in treating malnourished children.

Country director of ACF Nepal Martin Rosselot shared the strategies of ACF International and ACF Nepal for the coming years..

This was followed by a presentation of the objectives and activities of the department of Mental Health and Care Practices of ACF internationally in fighting under-nutrition.

Since 2012, the ACF-Nepal has been supporting nutrition coordination through regular technical inputs and expertise, participating in different technical forums such as the Nutrition cluster, the Nepal Nutrition Group and other technical working groups. ACF-Nepal started to support the integration of Community Management of Acute Malnutrition in Saptari district from 2012. Since then approximately 6,000 acutely malnourished children under-five have been treated by the implementing partner: the District Public Health Office.

Recognized as a leader in the fight against malnutrition, Action Against Hunger | ACF International saves the lives of malnourished children while providing communities with sustainable solutions to hunger. With 35 years of expertise in emergency situations of conflict, natural disaster, and chronic food insecurity, ACF runs life-saving programs in 47 countries benefiting seven million people each year.

During the presentation, Senior Advisor of the Mental Health and Care Practices Department of ACF International Cecile Bizouerne highlighted the attachment and relationship needs of the baby other than its nutrition needs. Working on mother-child attachment and care practices of the mother can make an enormous difference in the development of under nourished children.

“The behaviours and practices of caregivers are important in providing the food, stimulation and emotional support necessary for children’s healthy growth and development. These practices translate food security and health care into a child’s well-being. Not only are the practices themselves, but also the way they are performed (with affection and with responsiveness to children) critical to children’s survival, growth and development.”

They also made a detailed presentation about the FUSAM research. The participants acknowledged the importance of this research in the multi-sector nutrition approach and the Nepali socio-cultural context.

ACF International’s Senior Research Advisor presented the research department of ACF and some key research projects they are working on in Africa.

A steering committee to discuss the way forward for the research, its results and the possible inclusion of a psychosocial intervention in the treatment of Severe Acute Malnutrition in Nepal was done in the afternoon.

The presented program complements these technical and operational inputs, and we expect that the whole nutrition coordination in Nepal will benefit from it. The project spoken about is called Follow-Up of Acutely Malnourished Children (FUSAM). Its main objective is to assess the effectiveness of adding psychosocial counselling to medico-nutrition treatment of Severe Acute Malnutrition.

The participants to this program included representatives of government, non-government and UN organizations.

Treating children for under nutrition is considered as clearly efficient and cost effective. The Lancet series have highlighted it. But we know also the importance of care practices in nutrition. In many countries therefore ACF and other organizations include systematic psychosocial counselling sessions at health facilities. Psychosocial interventions over a period of time have a positive effect on child’s growth as well as physical and mental development. But to be able to scale up psychosocial interventions in treatment and prevention programs, it is more feasible if the intervention would be short term. Evidence about short-term psychosocial interventions is lacking.

The aim of FUSAM project is clearly to fill this gap and provide reliable evidence, in order to further guide decision making. As a matter of fact, if the research confirms its hypothesis, then ACF Nepal and ACF International will communicate widely about it, promote the identified good practices and then look for support to scale up such kind of intervention. This could be of vital importance to avoid the 3 million deaths of children under five we have to deplore each year in the world, because of under nutrition.

"The main purpose is to communicate publicly about its objectives, its modalities and its challenges, in order to inform the interested public and some of the main actors involved in nutrition research, coordination and action," organisers said.

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