A key technique that community health workers (CHWs) in Burundi use to monitor a child’s level of malnutrition is to measure their weight and mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC). Because the standards for rehabilitation are given by weight for age, CHWs found it difficult to identify children who were wasting because they were underweight for their height. In addition, when CHWs used MUAC tapes to screen for severe or moderate acute malnutrition, many underweight children who did not meet those thresholds were overlooked. This meant that children suffering from malnutrition may not have been given the support that they needed. Taking a multi-stakeholder approach that included input from multiple government ministries and UNICEF, World Vision Burundi’s B4MCN project introduced the CommCare application in 2019 and trained CHWs to use the tool effectively. The project is supported by the Australian Government.
The approach has added great value, as it readily combines both weight and MUAC information to clearly indicate the child’s nutritional status. Now all children in the project area who suffer from malnutrition due to wasting or being underweight receive appropriate support. Encouraged by the B4MCH project’s success, donors in Burundi are looking to use this solution in other programmes.