Between 2001 and 2005, the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) therapeutic feeding programme in Maradi, Niger offered treatment for severe acute malnutrition centred on the use of Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) and the outpatient management of all uncomplicated cases. During the malnutrition crisis in 2005, the programme demonstrated its capacity to handle large numbers of patients while maintaining highly satisfactory results. Over 40,000 severely malnourished children were treated in Maradi region alone, with a cure rate above 90%.
The 2005 crisis in Niger has led to an increased understanding of the problem of malnutrition and how to extend treatment to large numbers of affected children. A national protocol favouring outpatient treatment with RUTF for severe acute malnutrition was adopted in July 2005. For the first time in 2006, the treatment of malnutrition was integrated into the national action plan against food insecurity. The government of Niger, United Nations (UN) agencies and international donors went forward with a plan to treat 500,000 acutely malnourished children during 2006. Nutritional surveillance was added to the early warning system, and Niger has reaffirmed its commitment to reduce child mortality rates as a public health priority. With assistance from the World Bank, the government has moved to implement free health care for children less than 5 years of age and for pregnant women.
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