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Prevention of child wasting: Results of a Child Health & Nutrition Research Initiative (CHNRI) prioritisation exercise

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Research snapshot1

An estimated 49.5 million children under five years of age are wasted. The decline in the global prevalence of wasting has been slow, from 7.9% in 2012 to 7.3% in 2018; just 37 (19%) out of 194 countries are on track to achieve the World Health Assembly (WHA) 2025 target of maintaining prevalence of wasting below 5.0%. There is a lack of robust studies on effective interventions to prevent wasting. To address this, a research prioritisation exercise was undertaken to identify and prioritise the main outstanding research questions in relation to wasting prevention to inform future research agendas. The authors followed the Child Health and Nutrition Research (CHNRI) method. Identified research gaps were compiled from multiple sources, categorised into themes and streamlined into forty research questions by an expert group. A survey was then widely circulated to assess research questions according to four criteria and an overall research priority score was subsequently calculated for each question in order to provide a ranking order.

In total, 146 individuals participated in the survey from a wide range of geographical and organisational background. Research questions prioritised by this group had a strong focus on interventions. The importance of the early stages of life in determining later experiences of wasting was highlighted. Other important themes included the identification of at-risk infants and young children early in the progression of wasting and the roles of existing interventions and the health system in prevention. These results indicate consensus to support more research on the pathways to wasting encompassing the in-utero environment, on the early period of infancy and on the process of wasting and its early identification. They also reinforce how little is known about impactful interventions for the prevention of wasting. This exercise provides a five-year investment case for research that could most effectively improve on-the-ground programmes to prevent child wasting and inform supportive policy change.

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Endnotes

1Frison S, Angood C, Khara T, Bahwere P, Black RE, Briend A, et al. (2020) Prevention of child wasting: Results of a Child Health & Nutrition Research Initiative (CHNRI) prioritisation exercise. PLoS ONE 15(2): e0228151. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0228151

 

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Prevention of child wasting: Results of a Child Health & Nutrition Research Initiative (CHNRI) prioritisation exercise. Field Exchange 62, April 2020. p55. www.ennonline.net/fex/62/preventionofchildwastingchnri

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