The Germany-funded MUSEFO project is continuing to offer malnutrition identification classes to community trainers.

Course attendees will be able to teach parents and guardians how to use the measurements of a child’s upper arm to identify early malnutrition, which may help to prevent serious health problems including stunting, eye problems, diabetes and heart disease.

Supported by Germany’s development agency GIZ, the MUSEFO project on July 31 collaborated with Helen Keller International Cambodia to run the “mid-upper arm circumference”(MUAC) orientation course – a community screening approach which empowers people to screen their own children for acute malnutrition using colour-coded MUAC tapes. Neither literacy nor numeracy skills are required.

Hou Kroeun, deputy country director of Helen Keller Cambodia, told The Post on August 2 that the organisation is working with several partners – including the Ministry of Health – to support the prevention, detection and treatment of children with acute and moderate malnutrition.

He explained that the training was part of a six-month project that supported health centres and village health support groups to identify malnourished children and find them treatment.

“We provide training through operations with the National Nutrition Programme to health centre staff and other healthcare facilities, so they can find malnourished children. Our organisation also provides therapeutic food supplies to health centres,” he said.

Kroeun described how the project taught people to track the health of their children themselves by measuring their child’s upper arm.

“We teach mothers to use coloured MUAC tapes to determine if their child is malnourished or in good health. The professional team from MUSEFO train our staff, so they can share their knowledge with mothers in the community or at the sub-national level,” he said.

Malnutrition refers to a lack or excess of nutrition, and is caused by patients not eating enough or properly. This means their diet lacks the calories, protein, vitamins and minerals to support and boost the growth of the body.

“Malnutrition can lead to serious health implications, including stunting, eye problems, diabetes and heart disease. Malnourished people are often deficient in vitamins and minerals, especially iron, zinc, vitamin A and iodine,” said Kroeun.

“Parents need to pay close attention to the nutrition of the child during the first 1,000 days of life, from the time a baby is born to two years of age. This is a time when children need strong growth and development, both physically and mentally,” he added.