Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) Middle Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC) measuring device 1994

  • Not on view

Commonly called the Bracelet of Life, the MUAC is used in the field by volunteers with Doctors Without Borders to identify cases of acute malnutrition as quickly as possible in children ages six months to five years. The color-coded tool can be used by any language group. The band is wrapped around the child's upper left arm; the circumference of the arm corresponds to a color, ranging from green (normal) to orange (moderate malnutrition) to red (serious malnutrition and risk of death). The Bracelet of Life campaign, which draws attention to the devastating famine in Sudan, began in 1998.

Gallery label from Born out of Necessity, March 2, 2012–January 28, 2013.
Additional text

The Bracelet of Life, first used by Doctors Without Borders in 1998 during a devastating famine in Sudan, makes it easy to quickly assess the level of malnourishment in children under five years old. The plastic band is fitted around a child’s upper arm; its circumference, based on four different color zones, signals both the level of malnourishment and recommended treatment. Some of the lifesaving treatments for malnourished children, in the form of ready-to-use therapeutic food packets (such as Plumpy’nut, displayed here), are also the products of thoughtful design: the packets are sealed against contamination, come in individual servings to prevent unhygienic sharing, and require no additional water or heating.

Gallery label from Century of the Child: Growing by Design, 1900–2000, July 29–November 5, 2012.
Trapinex Sérigraphie-Offset
12 3/4 x 3/4" (32.4 x 1.9 cm)
Gift of Doctors Without Borders / Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)
Object number
Photo © Ton Koene for MSF
Architecture and Design

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