Relationships between recovery and relapse, and default and repeated episodes of default in the management of acute malnutrition in children in humanitarian emergencies: A systematic review protocol
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines malnutrition in children as ‘a state in which the physical function of a child from birth to five years is impaired due to either overnutrition or undernutrition’ whereby ‘the latter is the result of poor or insufficient nourishment, poor absorption, or poor biological use of nutrients consumed’ (WHO, 2006, p24). Malnutrition is the single greatest threat to child survival, and is measured by three main indicators: underweight, stunting and wasting. Underweight is an indicator for recent weight loss or the combined effect of wasting and stunting. Stunting is an indicator of long-term or chronic malnutrition, while wasting indicates acute deficiency in nutrient intake or disease (UNICEF, 2009). Of these three, wasting poses the greatest risk to mortality in children under five (Black et al., 2008, 2013). The condition is associated with a lack of body fat and wasting of skeletal muscles. Malnutrition is preventable and treatable, and there are appropriate guidelines developed by the WHO and other bodies for managing acute malnutrition in humanitarian emergencies to prevent the risk of mortality (UNICEF, 2009, 2013).
This review is funded through the Humanitarian Evidence Programme, a UK Aid-funded partnership between Oxfam and Feinstein International Center (FIC) at the Friedman School of Nutrition at Tufts University. We plan to conduct a systematic review of evidence to understand what works in the management of acute malnutrition in emergency relief settings. The review primarily will focus on reviewing evidence from published and unpublished/grey literature to understand the relationship between recovery and relapse, and default rates and/or repeated episodes of default, following the management of acute malnutrition in children aged under five-years-old in humanitarian emergencies.
The review forms part of the Humanitarian Evidence Programme, which aims to synthesize evidence in the humanitarian sector and communicate the findings to stakeholders, with the ultimate goal of improving humanitarian policy and practice.