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Setting Research Priorities to Guide Action for Acute Malnutrition

By Amy Mayberry on 3 April 2017

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I hope some of you have heard of No Wasted Lives. For those who haven’t, now is the time to join forces with this coalition of partners working to address the biggest challenges we face today in the prevention and treatment acute malnutrition.Our ambitions are large and we need your help to accelerate global action to double the number of children receiving treatment to 6 million a year by 2020.

One of the biggest challenges to achieving this is evidence – both generating new evidence as well as effectively using the evidence that already exists to improve programmes and policies. Despite the significant advances that have been made in the past decade and improvements in the quality and coverage of programmes addressing acute malnutrition, there are still significant gaps that remain in the existing evidence-based to support scale-up.

The Council of Research & Technical Advice on Severe Acute Malnutrition (CORTASAM) was founded under No Wasted Lives in 2016 to address this challenge. Comprised of leading experts in child health and nutrition, the Council’s goal is to drive the use of evidence for action, in order to ultimately reach more children with effective treatment and prevention programmes.

A critical role of CORTASAM is to identify key research priorities across acute malnutrition between now and 2020, to fill gaps in the evidence, and to inform coordination and action that will lead to scale-up of evidence-based programmes. A clear set of research priorities is a fundamental platform to steer this work. Where time, capacity, and financial resources are limited, these research priorities will focus efforts on the most important areas that will ultimately translate into meaningful action across programmes, policies, and within the funding environment.

However, we cannot do this alone. Research priorities need to reflect the opinions of the experts, the researchers, and the implementers like you who are working every day to advance this field. Over the past few months, we have been working to compile the existing research questions and priorities for acute malnutrition across the sector. Much of these will be familiar to you but we’ve also added more to this list to include some of the new and innovative areas that are emerging. This list reflects the breadth and depth of research areas and opportunities to support improvements and scale-up of cost-effective programmes for acute malnutrition.

This list includes 53 research areas, which are framed as questions that could be collectively answered by a group of inter-related research studies. We need your help to prioritise these research areas through a global research prioritisation that we have launched this week.

This exercise provides a robust and transparent framework (using the CHNRI method) to collect global, regional, and country-level stakeholder feedback on the research priorities across the continuum of acute malnutrition in children 0-5 years of age. The aim is to produce a set of research priorities that are critical to achieve measurable improvements in the quality, effectiveness, and scale of programmes addressing acute malnutrition in children under five years of age in high burden countries by 2020.

So our ask is this – please take the time to contribute your feedback into this exercise. More information on the exercise and link to the survey are available at www.nowastedlives.org

View the initial statistics from the survey here.

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