Over 3,000 Communities Benefit from USAID Mikolo Donation of Baby Weighing Scales

Baby weighing session
Baby weighing session
Photo: Lisa Transfeldt Atkins/USAID Madagascar

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Antananarivo – Over 3,000 communities in Madagascar are getting a vital tool to measure the health of newborns thanks to the USAID Mikolo Project. USAID Mikolo is distributing 3,200 scales to Fokontany in the eight regions where the project works. The scales will help community health volunteers track the growth and health of newborns. Among young children, indicators of severe acute malnutrition include very low weight-for-height/weight-for-length or a very low mid-upper arm circumference.

The USAID Mikolo Project is a 5-year $25 million partnership to promote and develop a robust series of community health services in Madagascar. Today a symbolic ceremony was held in Anjeva commune, in the Avaradrano district of Antananarivo, to hand over scales to community health volunteers from that region, however the majority of the baby weighing scales have already been distributed and are being used to ensure the good health of babies. The ceremony was honored by the presence of officials from the Ministry of Public Health, the mayor of Anjeva, the Chief Medical Officer of the local health center, leaders of beneficiary villages, and members of community health and development committees. 

USAID was represented by the Director of their Health, Population and Nutrition Office, Daniele Nyirandutyie, who stated that with the scales community health volunteers, “will be able to weigh the children regularly, take accurate measurements of the baby’s weight, and take action to refer cases needing further treatment to nutritional recovery centers or to public health facilities, as needed.” These actions will supplement the other care practices delivered by community health workers, such as the promotion of breastfeeding to ensure the healthy growth of the child.

In Madagascar, one child out of two is underweight, which is a major public health concern. The USAID Mikolo Project helped monitor nearly 800,000 children for growth and nutrition in 2016 and the new scales will allow community health volunteers supported by the project to provide even more enhanced child health services.

Early identification of severe acute malnutrition is important for initiating treatment and reducing the risk of complications. After collecting the health data, the community health volunteers can give nutritional advice to parents or refer severe cases of malnutrition to the local health center. The 3,200 scales will also help lessen the burden on health center workers.

The USAID Mikolo Project supports the Madagascar Ministry of Public Health to implement its national community health policy, to reduce maternal, infant, and child morbidity and mortality by increasing the use of community-based primary health care services, and encouraging women and children to adopt healthy behaviors. The five-year project (2013-2018) covers 506 communes in 8 of Madagascar's 22 regions, targeting communities more than five kilometers from a health center. The project serves 3,577 Fokontany, including more than three million people.