Giving Compass' Take:

• Doctors Without Borders implemented a preventative care program to address malnutrition in India by training community-based health workers to identify early treatment and raise awareness about this issue.

• Why is an important part of the program to train the community-based health workers? 

• Read more about the issue of global malnutrition.

Communities don't need to rely on hospitals to treat moderate cases of malnutrition, a year-old pilot project in rural India has found, but can instead utilize community-based health workers, who can both identify and treat cases and ease pressure on the overstretched health system.

The medical humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders introduced community management of malnutrition in Jharkhand last year. The Indian state has some of the highest rates of severe acute malnutrition in the world. More than 750 children have already been identified and received treatment through the program, according to the organization’s records.

Doctors Without Borders turned to community-based health workers, equipping them with both the knowledge to raise awareness about undernutrition, but also to identify and begin treatment for children who show early signs of acute malnutrition, thus relieving the burden on the health system.

Malnutrition Deeply spoke to Dr. Amit Harshana, the deputy medical coordinator for Doctors Without Borders in India about what he has learned during the first year of the project.

Malnutrition Deeply: Can you walk us through the thinking behind introducing this pilot project?

Dr. Amit Harshana: If you’re talking about India, the burden of acute malnutrition is quite high. Looking at the burden of malnutrition, the treatment centers that are at the district level or sub-district level, which are usually the nutritional rehabilitation centers, are quite few in number. If you want to treat all these children, probably it will take another 10, 15 years for us to treat all these children.

Malnutrition Deeply: What preventive steps are you teaching?

Harshana: We are teaching the community about the local foods, about the other variables for malnutrition, for example, breast feeding, antenatal nutrition and care for pregnant mothers, adolescent nutrition.

Read the full article about malnutrition by Andrew Green at News Deeply