Conceptualizing factors impacting nutrition services coverage of treatment for acute malnutrition in children – an application of the Three Delays Model in Niger

Kodish SR Allen BGS Salou H Schwendler TR Isanaka S
Public health nutrition 2021 Oct 08; 1-21. doi: 10.1017/S1368980021004286. Epub 2021 10 08
Community-based management of acute malnutrition Rural Niger Severe acute malnutrition Three Delays Model


OBJECTIVE: The Three Delays Model is a conceptual model traditionally used to understand contributing factors of maternal mortality. It posits that most barriers to health services utilization occur in relation to one of three delays: Delay 1: delayed decision to seek care; Delay 2: delayed arrival at health facility; Delay 3: delayed provision of adequate care. We applied this model to understand why a community-based management of acute malnutrition (CMAM) services may have low coverage.

DESIGN: We conducted a Semi-Quantitative Evaluation of Access and Coverage (SQUEAC) over three phases using mixed methods to estimate program coverage and barriers to care. In this manuscript, we present findings from 51 semi-structured interviews with caregivers and program staff, as well as 72 structured interviews among caregivers only. Recurring themes were organized and interpreted using the Three Delays Model.

SETTING: Madaoua, Niger.

PARTICIPANTS: 123 caregivers and CMAM program staff.

RESULTS: Overall, 11 barriers to CMAM services were identified in this setting. Five barriers contribute to Delay 1, including lack of knowledge around malnutrition and CMAM services, as well as limited family support, variable screening services, and alternative treatment options. High travel costs, far distances, poor roads, and competing demands were challenges associated with accessing care (Delay 2). Finally, upon arrival to health facilities, differential caregiver experiences around quality of care contributed to Delay 3.

CONCLUSIONS: The Three Delays Model was a useful model to conceptualize the factors associated with CMAM uptake in this context, enabling implementing agencies to address specific barriers through targeted activities.