Quality of care for treatment of uncomplicated severe acute malnutrition delivered by community health workers in a rural area of Mali

Matern Child Nutr. 2018 Jan;14(1):e12449. doi: 10.1111/mcn.12449. Epub 2017 Apr 5.


An alternative Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition model with community health workers (CHWs) delivering treatment for uncomplicated severe acute malnutrition (SAM) was piloted in Mali. The capacity of the CHWs to evaluate, classify, and treat cases of uncomplicated SAM, to provide nutritional counselling to caretakers of children receiving treatment for SAM, malaria, pneumonia or diarrhoea and to correctly refer cases of complicated SAM, was assessed. This was done using direct observation by trained enumerators of the management of SAM cases using checklists, re-diagnosing the cases admitted for treatment and reviewing admissions cards and registers. One hundred twenty-five cases, assessed and treated by the CHWs, were observed. The majority of children were correctly assessed for the presence of major clinical signs (cough, diarrhoea, fever, and vomiting; 97.6%), and similarly most children were checked for the presence of danger signs (95.2%). Mid-upper arm circumference was correctly assessed in 96.8% of children and oedema was correctly assessed in 78.4% (The composite indicator, which includes all essential tasks to provide high-quality treatment, was achieved in 79.5% of cases. This paper concludes that well-trained and supervised CHWs are capable of managing cases of uncomplicated SAM. This suggests that such a strategy is an opportunity to increase access to quality treatment in Mali for SAM cases. However, further evidence is required to ensure that this level of care can be achieved at scale.

Keywords: Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition; child nutrition; community health workers (CHWs); quality of care; severe acute malnutrition (SAM).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anthropometry
  • Child, Preschool
  • Community Health Workers* / education
  • Community Health Workers* / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Mali
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Rural Population
  • Severe Acute Malnutrition / diagnosis
  • Severe Acute Malnutrition / therapy*
  • Socioeconomic Factors