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During the COVID-19 pandemic, the authorities made a change in the classification of malnutrition and concomitant service delivery protocol among the Rohingya children, residing in world’s largest refugee camp, located in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. In this paper, we discussed the potential implications of this updated protocol on the malnutrition status among children residing in the Rohingya camps.
This paper reviewed relevant literature and authors’ own experience to provide a perspective of the updated protocol for the classification of malnutrition among the children in the Rohingya camps and its implication from a broader perspective.
Rohingya refugee camps, Bangladesh.
Children aged less than five years residing in the Rohingya camps.
Major adaptation during this COVID-19 was the discontinuation of using weight-for-height z-score (WHZ) and the use of only mid upper arm circumference (MUAC) and presence of oedema for admission, follow-up and discharge of malnourished children in the camps. However, evidence suggests that use of MUAC only can underestimate the prevalence of malnutrition among the children in Rohingya camps. These apparently non-malnourished children are devoid of the rations that they would otherwise receive if classified as malnourished, making them susceptible to more severe malnutrition.
Our analysis suggests that policymakers should consider using the original protocol of using both MUAC and WHZ to classify malnutrition and retain the guided ration size. We also believe that it would not take an extra effort to adopt the original guideline as even with MUAC only guideline, certain health measures needed to adopt during this pandemic.
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