Photo Credit: Amara Ogwuma/ Helen Keller Intl.
Photo Credit: Amara Ogwuma/ Helen Keller Intl.

USAID Advancing Nutrition Nigeria’s Pauline Adah, a maternal, infant, and young child nutrition advisor, shares her insight on implementing wasting treatment and prevention programming and perspective on what is needed to prevent wasting in Nigeria in the long-term.

Q. Tell us about the efforts to improve the treatment of wasting in Nigeria and how USAID Advancing Nutrition is supporting these efforts.

The decade-long insurgency in Northeast Nigeria has contributed to the increase in wasting among children in Northern Nigeria. In response to the emergency in 2010, the Government of Nigeria, through its FMOH (Federal Ministry of Health) and nutrition stakeholders, promoted the adoption of the community-based management of acute malnutrition (CMAM) in the country. CMAM is an approach where the majority of children diagnosed with severe or moderate wasting without medical complications can be treated in the home using ready-to-use foods in paste form, such as the RUTF (ready-to-use therapeutic food), and RUSF (ready-to-use supplementary food). 

In 2017, members of the Northeast Nutrition Sector Coordination observed an increase in the rate of children with moderate wasting. As a result, they began to seek standardized measures to manage or treat such cases. It was then realized that the CMAM (community-based management of acute malnutrition) guidelines focused primarily on the management of severe wasting and provided little guidance on the management of moderate wasting thereby leaving out a critical period to catch children before they deteriorate into severe wasting. 

In September 2022, USAID Advancing Nutrition supported the FMOH in launching and dissemination of the national guidelines for IMAM (integrated management of acute malnutrition). These guidelines were broadened to include management procedures for moderate wasting and wasting in children facing special circumstances such as cases of HIV infection, emergency situations, and in pandemics; and the integration of these services at both facility and community levels.