Setting the scene: An overview of issues related to policies and programs for moderate and severe acute malnutrition

Setting the scene: An overview of issues related to policies and programs for moderate and severe acute malnutrition

Moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) and severe acute malnutrition (SAM) continue to exist at unacceptably high levels. There is a renewed momentum to dramatically improve nutritional status and decrease rates of malnutrition of all kinds. Although much focus is on the first 1,000 days, the period from conception to age 2 years, in relation to growth retardation (or stunting), it is just as important to pay adequate attention to wasting as a major contributor to both morbidity and mortality.

This paper reviews what is known about effective approaches for treatment and prevention of MAM and SAM, highlights nutrition blind spots in our strategies, and identifies programmatic and research gaps that, if addressed, will enhance our understanding of the menu of cost-effective approaches to alleviate acute forms of malnutrition.

The paper synthesizes presentations from the opening session of a May 2014 International Atomic Energy Agency symposium on Moderate Acute Malnutrition held in Vienna, Austria.

Although understanding of efficacious approaches to the treatment and prevention of MAM and SAM has recently improved, the evidence base for informed policies and programs remains limited.

If priority evidence gaps can be urgently addressed, our understanding of the menu of cost-effective interventions to alleviate acute forms of malnutrition will be considerably enhanced and the potential for impact at global scale significantly increased.