The MUAC Screening Campaign: Identifying Malnourished Children and Helping them to Thrive

Based on the results, malnourished children will receive quick referrals to clinics and mobile teams for life-saving interventions

Elizabeth Doyle
02 September 2021

Yemen has the unwelcome distinction of being home to 2 million acutely malnourished children who are fighting to survive. In response, the Ministry of Public Health and Population has partnered with UNICEF to conduct a nutritional survey – the MUAC Screening Campaign in Marib Governorate, Yemen –with the goal of identifying cases of malnutrition in households and camps within rural and urban areas.

The survey was launched this past June (2021) and aims to reach 101,920 children under the age of five, thanks to the efforts of 422 medical teams (comprised of 1,103 staff and volunteers). Based on the results, malnourished children will receive quick referrals to clinics and mobile teams for life-saving interventions, such as plumpy nut supplements, and will then be followed by UNICEF to ensure their full recovery.

Hala Adel Al-Mekhlafi teaches fourth-grade students in Marib governorate and is volunteering to examine children in the Jufaina camp.

UNICEF Nutrition programs in Yemen
Hala Adel, community health volunteer in the MUAC screening campaign that was held in Marib Governorate, Yemen.
UNICEF Nutrition programs in Yemen
Idrees Mujahed, 5 years old, a displaced child in Al-Jufaina camp while being screened by community health volunteers as part of the MUAC screening campaign that was held by UNICEF in Marib governorate, Yemen.

Thanks to the generous support of KSA and UAE, through the Famine Relief Fund (FRF), UNICEF Yemen has been able to support lifesaving and preventive nutrition services in 2,742 OTPs, in addition to supporting 170 mobile teams in 209 Yemeni districts to reach more than 90,000 children with severe acute malnutrition.

The FRF support also includes support to the most lifesaving intervention for children with severe acute malnutrition with complications in 19 TFCs across the country as well as supporting the implementation of mass screening, micronutrient, and deworming campaigns which has reached more than1.5 million children.

Eager to make a difference, Hala explains: “We’re assisting children ages six months and up by giving them micronutrients that are necessary for their cognitive and physical development. From what I’m seeing, it’s clear that COVID-19 has led to an increase in cases of malnutrition, because parents were afraid to leave their homes to earn daily wages and provide their children with their basic needs.”

The program promises to alleviate the suffering of many children and their parents, including women like Om Abdulrahman – who has six children, from Raymah governorate and was displaced to Al-Jufaina Camp, Marib governorate, and needs a quick referral for her baby boy. “Our financial condition is not good, and we struggle with nutrition. Since I do not have money to buy formula, my only option is to breastfeed my son, and my supply is often low because of my own nutritional deficits. Even though the road to my nearest healthcare center is paved, we simply cannot afford transportation. All I want is good health for me and my son,” Om Abdulrahman explains, “Most of the displaced do not know that the child is malnourished until the condition becomes severe and has complications, so this campaign helped to identify the malnourished cases before they got complications.” Om Abdulrahman added.

UNICEF Nutrition programs in Yemen
Om Abdulrahman a mother of malnourished child who got screened and received nutrition supplement in the campaign that was implemented in Al-Jufaina Camp, Marib Governorate, Yemen
UNICEF Nutrition programs in Yemen
Ahmed Murshid, 7 months old, a displaced child with his mother while being examined by the community health volunteer.

Thanks to the efforts of 256 health workers and community health volunteers who participated in the MUAC campaign in 9 districts in Marib governorate, Yemen, 81,239 children under the age of five have been screened for malnutrition. Of them, 3,767 children were deemed acutely malnourished and were referred to the management programs. Moreover, 68,455 children under five years old have received micronutrient supplementation, and 56,415 children received deworming medication.