Mid-Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC) tapes guidelines

A simple tool to detect child wasting and save lives in children aged between 6 months and 5 years old

A mother measures the mid-upper arm circumference of her child


One in 12 Indonesian children under five years is estimated to be wasted (too thin compared to their height/length). Wasted (moderate wasting and severe wasting) children are three times more likely to become stunted, with those with severe wasting having almost 12 times greater risk of dying than a healthy child.

Detecting child wasting before children develop complications is essential to easily treat the condition.  Simple colour-coded bands, known as mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) tapes, can be easily used at both the community and health facility level and even within households, to detect wasting and refer children in need of wasting treatment.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and Ministry of Health (MoH) updated guidelines recommend that MUAC measurements be used as a screening tool to detect child wasting in the community, and at a health-facility level, as an independent criterion, in addition to weight-for-height and bilateral oedema (nutritional swelling), for admission to wasting treatment programmes.

Global and local evidence has found that communities, including caregivers, can be easily trained, and equipped with MUAC tapes to screen for wasting, detect child wasting early, and appropriately refer children at risk to health facilities when needed.  Additionally, Integrated Health Outpost (Posyandu) and Early Childhood Development (ECD) center are also important platforms for early identification of wasted children and referral for timely treatment and nutritional care.

Ministry of Health Republic of Indonesia and UNICEF
Publication date
English, Indonesian

Files available for download