Nutrition Project Brings Sustainable Treatment of Malnutrition to Uganda with Technical Assistance from University Research Co., LLC

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With funding from the United States Agency for International Development, a nutrition project called NuLife – Food and Nutrition Interventions for Uganda created sustainable changes in the way Ugandan healthcare facilities treat malnutrition. NuLife, managed by University Research Co., LLC (URC) in partnership with the Ugandan Ministry of Health (MOH) from 2008 to 2011, used several innovative approaches to systemize treatment for malnourished individuals, many of whom are living with HIV/AIDS.

I thank NuLife for accomplishing their tasks and for establishing correlations and collaborations with the Ministry of Health during the implementation of the program.

With funding from the United States Agency for International Development, a nutrition project called NuLife – Food and Nutrition Interventions for Uganda created sustainable changes in the way Ugandan healthcare facilities treat malnutrition. NuLife, managed by University Research Co., LLC (URC) in partnership with the Ugandan Ministry of Health (MOH) from 2008 to 2011, used several innovative approaches to systemize treatment for malnourished individuals, many of whom are living with HIV/AIDS.

Over the three-year project, NuLife increased the number of HIV-positive individuals assessed for malnutrition upon arrival at 54 project-supported healthcare facilities from 0% in 2008 to nearly 84% in 2011. These facilities treated more than 15,000 HIV-positive individuals for severe and moderate malnutrition. HIV infection increases body metabolic requirements significantly while contributing to a loss of appetite, leaving HIV-infected individuals vulnerable to malnutrition. The project also developed local capacity to produce food that treats malnutrition, successfully advocated for the inclusion of this food on Uganda’s Essential Medicines List, and developed national guidelines for integrating nutrition care into the treatment of HIV/AIDS-infected individuals.

“Nutrition is an important component in care, treatment and support of HIV and AIDS programs. I thank NuLife for accomplishing their tasks and for establishing correlations and collaborations with the Ministry of Health during the implementation of the program. Nutrition is a big underlying factor in whatever we are doing. If we don’t tackle it, I think we are not doing the right thing.” –Dr. Jacinto Amandua, Ugandan Ministry of Health Commissioner for Clinical Services

NuLife developed sustainable processes to continue life-saving nutrition care in Uganda even after project funding ended. The national guidelines for integrating nutrition care into HIV/AIDS treatment, developed in collaboration with NuLife, will standardize nutrition treatment across the country. The guidelines include a seven-step process, developed and tested at NuLife-supported facilities, to making integration of nutrition services into HIV/AIDS care much easier for health workers. In addition, NuLife introduced the use of MUAC (Middle Upper-Arm Circumference) tape assessments into the national guidelines, which allow health facility staff to diagnose malnutrition quickly and easily. NuLife also trained and supported more than 1,200 community health workers (CHWs) to identify members of the community that may need medical care and to follow up with individuals that have been treated for malnutrition.

To develop local capacity for producing ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF), which treats people with acute malnutrition, NuLife partnered with a local food manufacturing company, RECO Industries. RECO provides land, seeds, and technical assistance to farmers so that they can grow the ground nuts that form the base for RUTF. Because the Ugandan government can only support government-approved medicines for use at health facilities, NuLife’s work with the MOH to add RUTF to the Essential Medicines List ensures that RUTF will continue to be produced and prescribed to treat malnourished individuals.    

About URC: URC, which celebrated its 45th anniversary last year, is a global company dedicated to improving the quality of health care, social services, and health education worldwide. With its non-profit affiliate, the Center for Human Services, URC manages projects in over 40 countries including the United States. Based in Bethesda, Maryland, URC has about 700 employees around the world.

About NuLife: NuLife – Food and Nutrition Interventions for Uganda was managed by University Research Co., LLC (URC) in collaboration with Save the Children and ACDI/VOCA. The project was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

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