The Determinants Affecting Severe Acute Malnutrition in Senegal

Open Access
Dempster, Katherine W
Area of Honors:
Biobehavioral Health
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Melina Tanya Czymoniewicz Klippel, Thesis Supervisor
  • David John Vandenbergh, Honors Advisor
  • Severe Acute Malnutrition
  • SAM
  • Senegal
  • Social Determinants
  • Malnutrition
Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) is a major cause of mortality in children under the age of five worldwide. One in three preschool aged children is undernourished in some way (World Food Program, n.d.). According to the World Food Program (WFP), 47.6% of the 13.7 million living in Senegal live in poverty (World Food Program, n.d.). In 2014, UNICEF projected 340,000 children with acute malnutrition under the age of 5 living in Senegal; 79,000 of these children have SAM (UNICEF, 2014). UNICEF’s report states that overall 480,000 people, children in particular, need immediate attention due to major health implications such as kidney failure, brain deterioration, reduced ability to fight infection, growth deficiencies, and mortality that may result (UNICEF, 2014). Nine of the 45 departments in Senegal have SAM prevalence over the critical threshold of >2% of the population, and 5 have a level of SAM over the alert threshold set by worldwide measures at <3% (UNICEF, 2014). This thesis explores the determinants surrounding SAM in the children of Senegal through the six levels of Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory. These levels of analysis speak to the complexity of SAM. Literature was sourced through online databases, journals, government publications, educational websites, and printed sources and analyzed to speak to these levels of complexity. This literature review includes the main social and physical determinants of SAM in Senegal today by discussing the most recent publications on the subject.