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GOAL and Irish Aid combat infant malnutrition in Malawi


February 4, 2020 • 2 min read

With the support of Irish Aid funding, GOAL Malawi is helping to save the lives of malnourished young children by training mothers in the use of the Mid-Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC) tape.  Here is one powerful story of change.

before and after MUAC treatment

Before and after images highlighting young Hawa’s improved health

Little Hawa from Khalava village, Mlolo in Nsanje District in Southern Malawi is the picture of health. Thanks to GOAL’s work with malnourished infants and young children, she is now a thriving, happy infant girl.

Hawa received the vital medical and nutritional treatment she needed after her mother, Alice, was shown how to use a MUAC tape (Mid-Upper Arm Circumference) tape at home by GOAL trained caregivers in the community, and she was diagnosed with severe acute malnutrition.

The MUAC tape is widely used in the developing world to help identify malnutrition in children aged between six months and five years. The colour-coded tape is placed around the left arm of the child, with green indicating ‘nourished’, yellow ‘moderately acutely malnourished’ and red ‘severely acutely malnourished’.

The first picture shows Hawa aged 18 months and weighing just 7.3 kgs. And the second shows her transformed after doubling her weight to a healthy 14.2 kgs in just three weeks thanks to GOAL’s intervention.

After her diagnosis Hawa was referred to Trinity Hospital for vital medical and nutritional treatment. Having doubled her weight she is now happy and healthy, with no barriers to her physical development. As part of the treatment plan, there will be follow up consultations for Hawa.

Alice, is now confident in managing her daughter’s health, and now has her own backyard garden to grow vegetables and fruits to feed her family. This is thanks to the NIPP (Nutrition Impact Positive Practice) training she received from GOAL, where she learned about diet diversity, using locally sourced and sustainable produce so that she can feed her family with a nutritious diet. She is now able to prepare a wide variety of nutritious food, and improve sanitation and hygiene care at home for her family. Thanks to Irish Aid funding, GOAL can is improving the lives of women like Alice and helping them create a better life for their families.

GOAL has to date trained 25 additional health workers (19 males and 6 females) on family MUAC. The health workers train mothers and caregivers on MUAC in target communities, and follow up on how assessments for children under five are conducted, and when required refer children to the Supplementary Feeding Programme (SFP)).

The GOAL programme facilitated MUAC training for 1,969 mothers and caregivers in Nsanje and Machinga Districts. Each of the participants were provided with their own MUAC tapes for use in their homes.