CMAM Association formed to address severe malnutrition in India among children

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on May 26, 2020

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The critical need to contain the incidence of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) amongst children in India, has galvanized the formation of a new industry group in the country. The Community Based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) Association of India has come into existence to fast-track the process of bringing acutely malnourished children out of the danger zone.

This is aimed to achieve through the promotion of Ready to use therapeutic foods (RUTF) at the community level.

According to the association, the use of therapeutic supplements as a short-term emergency measure followed by home-based foods could significantly reduce the number of children requiring in-facility/ hospital management.

“As many as 90 per cent of the SAM children can be treated at the community level using Ready to use therapeutic food (RUTF) as an emergency measure”, said a statement from the CMAM Association.

As per the Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey (2016-18), conducted by the UNICEF and the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW), the prevalence of severe acute malnutrition among children is 4.9 per cent. This means that 1 in every 20 children in India under 5 years of age suffers from SAM.

In number terms this accounts for over 60 lakh children affected by SAM, perhaps the highest in the world. This may be a conservative estimate, as the Indian Academy of Pediatrics puts the number close to 80 lakh.

"While India has made tremendous progress on several counts, the problem of severe acute malnutrition in children shows no signs of letting up. CMAM Association Is of the firm belief that usage of RUTF, based on WHO and UNICEF standards, is the most recognized and widely acclaimed way of tackling the SAM scourge head-on", said Akshat Khandelwal, President, CMAM Association of India that comprises leading manufacturers & exporters of RUTF in India.

As prescribed by UNICEF and the WHO, RUTF is the preferred emergency means of treatment of SAM children in the age group of 6 months to 5 years.

According to Khandelwal, the POSHAN Abhiyan is a step in the right direction. Children should be given access to nutritious food to prevent malnutrition. But when prevention fails for some reason and the children are afflicted with severe malnutrition, the country needs to act swiftly to save these children.

“Our confidence stems from the successful and results-oriented usage of RUTF for tackling SAM in several pilot community-based projects across different states such as Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, etc," he added.

There is a prevailing myth in some circles that RUTF is meant to replace healthy home-cooked food. In reality, RUTF is an emergency measure much like ORS for children at risk. We have state of the art facilities for manufacturing consistently high-quality RUTF in India that meets the quality standards as recommended by UNICEF, stated the CMAM Association.

The CMAM Association plans to provide a platform for a national discourse on the eradication of malnutrition by catalyzing the involvement of stakeholders and interested parties.

Published on May 26, 2020

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