Malnutrition challenges the medical community on many levels. The first problem is to locate. Next, managing acute malnutrition means not just ensuring sufficient calories, but also treating associated illnesses. This of course isn’t easy in developing countries with limited medicines available. Physicians therefore have to take into account the logistics of the whole treatment on top of managing malnutrition and its associated complications. Field aid distribution is yet another challenge in preventing recurrence of disease.
Our goal, therefore, is to reach as many malnourished children in the community as possible, and start treating them right on the spot. Our endeavour is always to identify them and provide them a therapeutic diet before serious health complications (diarrhoea, pneumonia) that require hospitalization.
Children suffering from complications associated with severe acute malnutrition may require a rapid response from a highly specialized physician. For those needing hospitalization and regular monitoring, MAGNA provides stabilization centres with up to 20 intensive care beds. Treatment includes therapeutic milk given by nasogastric tube, antibiotics, worming, vaccination control, and malaria screening. Patients with sufficient recovery can continue in the program as outpatients with weekly physician visits, when their weight and general health can be monitored.
Cases of mild malnutrition, its risks, but also cases of serious malnutrition without complications can be treated in our outpatient centers that provide the ready-to-use food (RUTF). Parents can also give this treatment to children at home and their child's health and general development can be monitored during visits to MAGNA outpatient centers.
Our teams measure children by comparing weight to height according to international WHO standards, or by measuring middle arm circumference (MUAC) using color-coded bracelets. This measurement is very simple and therefore often used by community health professionals.
Work in the community and prevention
The main task of working in a community is to find children at risk of malnutrition, in order to treat them as early and effectively as possible. Specially trained MAGNA community workers handle this in the field. An important part of their work includes educating and motivating young children’s parents to maintain hygiene and good eating habits. We teach mothers and families how to prepare sufficiently nutritious food even in humble conditions or in poverty. MAGNA community workers also visit families of young patients receiving therapeutic diets to oversee successful treatment.