Integrating Early Detection and Treatment of Child Wasting into Routine Primary Health Care Services: A Resource Guide to Support National Planning

Health systems around the world are striving to prevent and manage child wasting. In 2020, 45 million children experienced wasting, which means they are acutely malnourished and have a low weight-for-height. With 45% of child deaths linked to malnutrition and only one in three children with wasting receiving treatment, this represents a massive problem.

Countries have been integrating wasting services into routine primary healthcare services (PHC) for the last 20 years. Further integration of the early detection and treatment of child wasting is still a critical call to action, as outlined by the UN Global Action Plan for Child Wasting (GAP).

To support countries in their integration journey, UNICEF and R4D developed this resource guide that offers an easy-to-follow process for governments to identify integration actions that can help achieve program goals for the early detection and treatment of child wasting within routine PHC. The guide also provides substantial reference material for country teams. It reviews common constraints to achieving program goals for wasting services across the whole health system and presents a set of integration actions that could help address constraints. Health sector decision-makers will need to decide which actions—or a bundle of integration actions across health sector components—are relevant to their context that can help increase coverage, increase efficiency, and improve sustainability of programs. The approach and materials offered in this guide can help make this decision-making process easier.


The Resource Guide was developed by UNICEF and R4D, and the team from UNICEF was led by Saul Guerrero Oteyza and Minh Tram Le. The guide was developed through consultation with global and country actors and the authors are grateful to everyone who participated, including members of the advisory group for providing advice and feedback throughout the process and reviewing drafts. Funding was provided by the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation and the Eleanor Crook Foundation.

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