Measuring refugee malnutrition in the under-fives: pitfalls in practice
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Renzaho, A., Burns, C. and Reidpath, D. (2002) ‘Measuring refugee malnutrition in the under-fives: pitfalls in practice’, Mots Pluriels, 21. Available at: https://motspluriels.arts.uwa.edu.au/MP2102rbr.html.
This article reviews the merit of using the World Health Organization (WHO) / National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) references to evaluate the nutritional status of refugees and famine-affected populations and the implication of the findings for further development of Public Health Nutrition programs. Public health nutrition interventions, in order to change the nutritional status of refugees and famine affected-populations, need to be based on accurate and appropriate reference criteria in order to satisfy demands for cost-effectiveness and preserve the human right to adequate food. However, many are confused by the current practice of estimating malnutrition in complex emergencies and it appears that the use of WHO/NCHS references may not be appropriate for use under these conditions in particular, and in the third world in general. To verify this claim, we conducted a literature review. Factors to be reviewed were selected a priori. Computer-assisted searches for English-language publications in the MEDLINE database were conducted and references cited in related publications were reviewed. The literature was restricted to published papers from 1975 to 2000, which focused on malnutrition and its measurement. Findings from the literature review indicate that there is a need to develop more appropriate references that are reflective of the field of intervention. In the absence of more appropriate references, this paper presents the advantages and disadvantages of using these references and some policy recommendations.