New York, NY, Feb. 15, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A potentially life-saving new app for detecting acute malnutrition in children captured this year’s Gold Anthem Award for Best Humanitarian Action & Services Innovation. Developed by the international nonprofit Action Against Hunger, the tool holds the potential to change the way the world screens millions of children for malnutrition. 

Every day, more than 2,000 children die from hunger-related causes, and innovative solutions to end malnutrition have never been more urgent. Typically, in places where hunger is deadly, malnutrition diagnostics can be slow, if they are available at all. Current detection methods are time-consuming and inaccurate, with health workers lugging cumbersome bucket scales and heavy height boards from village to village.  

To equip health workers with effective tools to identify malnutrition more quickly and accurately, Action Against Hunger’s new mobile app can accurately screen children for the deadliest form of hunger, severe acute malnutrition (SAM), with just a quick photo. The app uses body scanning technology and morphological techniques to compare scans of a potentially malnourished child with a healthy child. It eliminates human error and provides a faster, more accurate, and more detailed diagnosis of a child’s nutrition status. 

Image of SAM Photo Diagnostic App®

Designed for poor, rural areas with no internet connection, low literacy levels, and the most basic Android phones in widespread use, the app is faster, easier, and more accurate than today’s standard of care. “As malnutrition grows, innovative tools like our SAM Photo App can bring the power of an accurate diagnosis to the community level, with real-time results,” said Laura Medialdea Marcos, Action Against Hunger’s Research Project Coordinator and the driving force behind this breakthrough approach. “We’re working to change the paradigm of how we screen for malnutrition, which can ultimately help treat more children and save more lives.”

Current detection methods are time-consuming, with health workers lugging cumbersome bucket scales and heavy height boards from village to village.
Photo credit: Gonzalo Höhr, Action Against Hunger, Honduras

Action Against Hunger has run large-scale pilots in Senegal, where more than 90 clinics are using the app, and plans to expand the program to Guatemala, Mali, and Mauritania. Globally, an estimated 75% of acutely malnourished children who need treatment cannot access it – even though extremely cost-effective treatments have a greater than 90% cure rate.

The second annual Anthem Awards competition received nearly 2,000 entries from 43 countries worldwide. “We have seen that social change has emerged as a dominant force in mainstream culture,” said Anthem Awards Managing Director Jessica Lauretti. “The sheer number, breadth and overall quality of the entries shared with us in the 2nd Annual Awards is a testament to the strength of this growing movement and demonstrates an enduring commitment to the work that is both humbling and inspiring to see. From the war in Ukraine, to protests in Iran and the ongoing battle for equality here at home in the States, the call for change not only perseveres but is a growing global chorus.”  

Anthem Winners are selected by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. Members include: Nicholas Thompson, CEO, The Atlantic, Christina Swarns, Executive Director, Innocence Project, Zarna Surti, Global Creative Director, Nike Purpose, Maurice Mitchell, National Director, Working Families Party, Lindsay Stein, Chief Purpose Office, Tombras, Jennifer Lotito, President & Chief Operating Officer, (RED), Lisa Sherman, President & CEO, The Ad Council, Emily Barfoot, Global Brand Director Dove, Unilever, Trovon Williams, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications, NAACP, Roma McCaig, Senior VP of Impact, Clif Bar, Michelle Egan, Chief Strategy Officer, NRDC, Dinah-Kareen Jean, Senior Manager, Social Innovation, Etsy, Sarah Kate Ellis, President & CEO, GLAAD, Jad Finck, Vice President of Innovation & Sustainability, Allbirds, Christopher Miller, Head of Global Activism Strategy, Ben & Jerry’s, Shayla Tait, Director of Philanthropy The Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation. 

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About Action Against Hunger:    

Action Against Hunger is leading a global movement to end hunger in our lifetimes. It innovates solutions, advocates for change, and reaches more than 24 million people every year with proven hunger prevention and treatment programs. As a nonprofit that works across 50 countries, its 8,300 dedicated staff members partner with communities to address the root causes of hunger, including climate change, conflict, and chronic inequality. It strives to create a world free from hunger, for everyone, for good.  

About The Anthem Awards

Launched in 2021 by The Webby Awards, The Anthem Awards honors the purpose & mission-driven work of people, companies and organizations worldwide. By amplifying the voices that spark global change, we’re defining a new benchmark for impactful work that inspires others to take action in their own communities. The Anthem Awards honors work across seven core causes: Diversity; Equity & Inclusion; Education; Art & Culture; Health; Human & Civil Rights; Humanitarian Action & Services; Responsible Technology; and Sustainability, Environment & Climate. Founded in partnership with the Ad Council, Born This Way Foundation, Feeding America, Glaad, Mozilla, NAACP, NRDC, WWF, and XQ.  

About The Webby Awards: 

Hailed as the “Internet’s highest honor” by The New York Times, The Webby Awards is the leading international awards organization honoring excellence on the Internet, including Websites; Video; Advertising, Media & PR; Apps, Mobile, and Voice; Social; Podcasts; and Games. Established in 1996, The Webby Awards received more than 13,500 entries from all 50 states and 70 countries worldwide this year. The Webby Awards are presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS). Sponsors and Partners of The Webby Awards include Verizon, WP Engine, YouGov, Brandlive, Canva, NAACP, KPMG,  Fast Company, Wall Street Journal, MediaPost, Podcast Movement, and AIGA


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