RMF’s Childhood Malnutrition Treatment and Prevention Initiative boasts the largest field presence of any NGO working in malnutrition in the region, a result of strong partnerships with government, NGOs, business, and most importantly, local communities.
60% of children under 5 are malnourished. Approximately 6 million children are at risk.
Madhya Pradesh carries India’s highest malnutrition burden.
The Real Medicine Foundation (RMF) attacked the problem head on by focusing our efforts on 600 of the worst hit villages across 5 districts: Jhabua, Alirajpur, Khandwa, Khargone, and Barwani.
Our strategy is to close the gap between the resources available and the families who need them by working closely with the Government of Madhya Pradesh to focus on malnutrition awareness, identification, treatment, and prevention and inserting simple, but innovative technologies and practices.
We employ up to 75 local women to act as Community Nutrition Educators to empower communities to combat malnutrition and identify children with severe acute malnutrition.
The largest challenge facing our CNEs, and the treatment of Severe Acute Malnutrition in general, is getting malnourished children to the Nutrition Rehabilitation Centers.
Reasons for Default After Successful Referral
Each child must have a caretaker stay with them for the entire 14-day course of treatment. However, many of the women are not able to stay that long, or even go to the NRC for the following reasons:
- Family pressure
- Household responsibilities (e.g. cooking or agricultural work)
- Other small children in the household with no other caretaker
Our CNEs and coordinators try to solve this with a variety of techniques, including:
- Increased counseling in the field about the NRC treatment, why it is important, and why it lasts 14 days
- Follow up with successful referrals by our coordinators
- Coordination with NRC workers by our coordinators to address problems specific to our referrals
- Follow up with defaulters in the field by our CNEs
- Suggestions for other caretakers, such as grandparents or siblings
With the introduction of the Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition Model, malnourished children can be treated in the community, circumventing the need for trips to the NRC. Since referral to NRCs is the largest hurdle to our program’s success, RMF expects that this new protocol will change the way malnutrition is treated in India.
We believe that while the rates of childhood malnutrition remain at their current level, the government needs RMF’s assistance to increase the effectiveness of their flagship schemes and increase community ownership of local resources and existing government programs at the village level.
RMF’s long term goal is to create an evidence-based model for the MP government to take over and elevate the initiative to a scale only the government is capable of sustaining.
Lessons from RMF’s program have already been applied to many Government of Madhya Pradesh programs, and we continue to share our locally developed tools with the government and other community based organizations.
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