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WHO CALL FOR AUTHORS: Iron content in ready-to-use therapeutic foods for treating children with severe wasting

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Anonymous 24

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10 Jun 2021, 09:08


In 2015, Member States committed to eliminating all forms of malnutrition by 2030 as one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To achieve this objective, the SDGs incorporated the Global Nutrition Targets approved by the World Health Assembly that aim to reduce the proportion of children suffering from wasting to < 5% by 2025 and to < 3% by 2030.

Globally, an estimated 13.6 million children aged 6–59 months are estimated to have suffered from severe wasting in 2020. Treatment of uncomplicated severe wasting includes providing ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) in outpatient care for up to 8 weeks. RUTF is formulated to support rapid growth and promote weight gain in children with wasting. The standard RUTF formulation is designed to provide about 1.9 mg iron per 100 kcal but there is emerging evidence to suggest that this dose may not be adequate to meet the demand of a child recovering from severe wasting. In children recovering from severe wasting, the daily requirements for iron may be increased to meet the demand for rapid growth. The bioavailability of iron may also be reduced due to malabsorption in children with severe wasting. 

As part of the work to develop a Codex RUTF guideline, the scientific evidence regarding the content of iron in RUTF will be reviewed to ensure that children recovering from severe wasting are taking adequate amounts of iron. 

WHO plans to conduct a systematic review of the available evidence on the iron content of RUTF. The findings will be used to make recommendations for the Codex RUTF guideline in November 2021.


The Actions in Health Systems Unit of the WHO Department of Nutrition and Food Safety is extending a call for authors to conduct a systematic review of evidence on the iron content in RUTF. The authors will be required to submit the report of the findings to WHO by 1 October 2021.  

How to submit the proposal
Interested author(s) or teams are invited to submit a proposal (maximum 6 pages) by sending an email to Dr Jaden Bendabenda, no later than 18 June 2021. The subject heading of the email should read as: “Systematic review: Iron content in RUTF”.

The proposal should contain the following (a single pdf document):

The specific competencies and contributions of each author or team member. Interested author(s)/teams must have vast knowledge of iron (or micronutrients), RUTF formulations (or similar food products) as well as experience in conducting systematic reviews and should provide references of reviews that they have published in peer-reviewed journals.

An abstract outlining the background and justification for the review, the search strategy and databases to be searched, the definition of inclusion/exclusion criteria, the process of data extraction and analytical approach. Successful authors will be required to submit a protocol prior to performing the review. They will also be required to work with WHO in preparing a summary of findings for presentation at the Codex meeting.

A detailed budget in US $. 


18 June 2021 – Deadline for submitting proposal to WHO

30 June – WHO review of proposals complete and authors/teams contacted and contracts agreed 

30 July 2021 – Draft protocol submitted to WHO

15 September 2021 – Draft report submitted to WHO

1 October 2021 – Final report submitted to WHO 

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