Background: Concern Worldwide is an international humanitarian nongovernmental organization that piloted and is now implementing and researching community-based therapeutic care (CTC) approaches to managing acute malnutrition. Experience in several countries suggests that there are key issues to be addressed at the international, national, regional, and community levels for community-based treatment of acute malnutrition to be sustainable.
National level: At the national level there must be demonstrated commitment to a clear health policy and strategy to address outpatient treatment of acute malnutrition. In addition, locally available, affordable ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) must be accessible.
Regional level: At the regional level a functional health system and appropriate capacity for service provision are required. Integration of outpatient services should be viewed as a process with different levels of inputs at different phases depending on the capacity of the Ministry of Health (MOH). There is a need for indicators to facilitate scale-up and scale-back for future emergency response.
Community level: Strong community participation and active screening linked to health service provision at the local level is paramount for sustainable assessment and referral of severe acute malnutrition. FUTURE CHALLENGES TO SUSTAIN COMMUNITY-BASED THERAPEUTIC CARE. Key challenges to the sustainable treatment of severe acute malnutrition include the development of locally produced RUTF, development of international standards on local RUTF production, the integration of outpatient treatment protocols into international health and nutrition guidelines, and further operational research into integration of community-based treatment of severe acute malnutrition into health systems in nonemergency contexts.