Publications & Reports

Pathways and approaches for scaling-up of community-based management of acute malnutrition programs through the lens of complex adaptive systems in South Sudan.

Renzaho AMN, Dachi G, Ategbo E, Chitekwe S, Doh D
Translational Health Research Institute, School of Medicine, Western Sydney, University, Sydney, Australia. [email protected]


BACKGROUND: Funds for community-based management of acute malnutrition (CMAM) programs are short-term in nature. CMAM programs are implemented in countries with weak policies and health systems and are primarily funded by donors. Beyond operational expansion, their institutionalisation and alignment with governments' priorities are poorly documented. The study aimed to identify pathway opportunities and approaches for horizontal and vertical scaling up of CMAM programs in South Sudan. METHODS: The study was conducted in South Sudan between August and September 2021 using an online qualitative survey with 31 respondents from policy and implementing organisations. The Reach, Effectiveness, Adoption, Implementation, and Maintenance (RE-AIM) framework guided the study’s design. It was self-administered through the Qualtrics platform. We used Qualitative Content Analysis supported by the Nvivo coding process. A deductive a priori template of codes approach was complemented by a data-driven inductive approach to develop the second level of interpretive understanding. RESULTS: Findings from the study demonstrate that the emphasis of CMAM programs was horizontal scaling up, characterised by geographic distribution and coverage as well as operational expansion. Main challenges have included unsustainable funding models, the inadequacy of existing infrastructure, high operational costs, cultural beliefs, and access-related barriers. Factor impacting access to CMAM programs have been geographical terrains, safety, and security concerns. Vertical scaling up, which emphasises institutional and ownership strengthening through a sound policy, regulatory, and fiscal environment, received relatively little attention. Nutrition supplies are not part of the government’s essential drug list and there is limited or no budgetary allocation for nutrition programs by the government in national budgets and fiscal strategies. Factors constraining vertical scalability have included weak government systems and capacity, a lack of advocacy and lobbying opportunities, and an apparent lack of exits strategies. CONCLUSION: Addressing the scalability problems of CMAM programs in South Sudan demands a delicate balancing act that prioritises both horizontal and vertical scalability. Government and political leadership that harness multidisciplinary and multi-sectoral coordination are required. There is a need to increase policy commitment to malnutrition and associated budgetary allocation, emphasise local resource mobilisation, and ensure financial sustainability of integrating CMAM programs into the existing health and welfare system.

Link to publisher’s web site


  • Journal: Archives of Public Health
  • Published: 05/09/2022
  • Volume: 80
  • Issue: 1
  • Pagination: 203

Health Issue