Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) remains a major killer of children under five years of age. Until recently, treatment has been restricted to facility-based approaches, greatly limiting its coverage and impact. However, in recent years a community based approach has been developed which allows large numbers of children with SAM to be treated in their communities without being admitted to a health facility or a therapeutic feeding centre.
The community-based approach involves timely detection of SAM in the community and provision of treatment for those without medical complications with ready-to-use therapeutic foods or other nutrient-dense foods at home. If properly combined with a facility-based approach for those malnourished children with medical complications or below six months and implemented on a large scale, community-based management of SAM can prevent the deaths of hundreds of thousands of children.