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New initiative to create a CMAM Forum

The rapid expansion of Community-Based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) into a diversity of contexts and the growing demand to share CMAM information and experiences have created a need for a clear, accessible mechanism to facilitate information sharing. Many governments and agencies are facing the same challenges but are not able to capitalise on lessons learnt within and among countries or agencies. Stakeholders involved in the management of acute malnutrition increasingly request that the coordination of information sharing be improved through an interactive forum that provides practical guidance on various themed subjects, especially while waiting for the development of relevant, formal, evidencebased guidelines or policies.

Over the past few years, a number of UN agencies, Inter Agency Standing Committee Global Nutrition Cluster (GNC) members, United Nation System Standing Committee on Nutrition (UNSCN), technical bodies, academic, training and research institutions, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), government technical personnel, donors and independent technical persons have expressed interest in participating in an information sharing forum. In addition, Ministry of Health personnel have expressed that they are keen to learn from the experiences of other countries. This informed discussion during the July 2010 GNC meeting in Geneva by a group of nutrition specialists on creating a forum where information sharing and discussion on CMAM would enhance the evidence-base and consolidate learning. Subsequently, a draft concept note was developed and shared with a wide health and nutrition audience in December 2010 to solicit feedback on and involvement in the CMAM Forum. The essence of the concept note it reflected here:

The objective of the CMAM Forum is to establish a robust information sharing mechanism to strengthen quality management of acute malnutrition through consolidating the evidence-base, promising practices, and lessons learnt. The CMAM Forum will link with nutrition and medical bodies involved in the management of acute malnutrition and will use existing information sharing systems, as appropriate. The involvement of a wide range of health and nutrition experts at the global, national, academic, and operational levels will be essential to the Forum's success. A Core Group and an Associates Group, with selfappointed membership and differing roles and responsibilities, will be created and a lead and support structure will be put in place.

At the start of the CMAM Forum initiative, an ad hoc group was formed comprising informal co-chairs and interested individuals representing 18 agencies that initially expressed interest in improving information sharing or are involved in CMAM initiatives. The ad hoc group proposed that the CMAM Forum's development have a modest start, leaving the potential to develop a more institutionalised structure for later, as necessary. A CMAM Forum terms of reference (TOR) document has been developed that proposes a two-phased strategy to help meet these requests.

In Phase One, a temporary structure to establish the CMAM Forum will be set up. A CMAM Forum Phase One Facilitator will be appointed to lead the activities in collaboration with the CMAM Forum ad hoc group and/or the Core Group members. The main focus of this phase will be to set up the CMAM Forum with active membership, define and set-up an information sharing mechanism, and prepare for Phase Two.

In Phase Two, the CMAM Forum will be established as a robust information sharing mechanism. The main focus of this phase will be to establish the information sharing mechanism (e.g. refining information sharing through collating, updating and storing relevant information, and managing active memberships) and to involve Group members in advocacy activities for the management of acute malnutrition. CMAM Forum Co-Chairs or a Facilitator will be appointed to lead the activities in collaboration with the Core Group members.

For further information, including a copy of the CMAM Form TOR, and to express interest in the initiative, contact
Hedwig Deconinck, email: hdeconinck@aed.org or
Nicky Dent, email: nicky@validinternational.org (informal co-chairs)

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New initiative to create a CMAM Forum. Field Exchange 41, August 2011. p29. www.ennonline.net/fex/41/new

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