Selective feeding programs are centres for the treatment of persons suffering from acute malnutrition. Unlike chronic malnutrition, acute malnutrition reflects recent problems. In a crisis situation, wasting is preferred above other indicators because it is sensitive to rapid change, indicates present change, can be used to monitor the impact of interventions and is a good predictor of immediate mortality risk. This paper reviews the current approach being used in the field to evaluate the effectiveness of feeding programs. There is no comprehensive evaluation framework in place to assess the impact of feeding programs on mortality due to malnutrition. Some loose outcome measures, such as the number of children enrolled in a feeding centre, are being used to determine if a feeding centre should continue. In addition, malnutrition prevalence and crude mortality rates determined through nutritional and mortality surveys are used to assess the impact of feeding programs. This procedure does not take into account potential confounding factors that impact on malnutrition prevalence, including access to non-relief foods and the general food ration. Therefore, one could not confidently say that the reduction of malnutrition prevalence is a result of feeding programs. This paper presents an alternative approach to evaluating feeding centres.
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