Life-Saving Food 

 Life-Saving Food 

Malnutrition is linked to nearly half of all childhood deaths

And yet the world produces enough food each year to feed everyone living on earth.

Does that seem fair to you?

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Malnutrition in Children

The effects of malnutrition, or not having the right nutrients, can have devastating long term consequences for children.

It can cause irreversible damage to a child’s brain development, immune system or physical growth.

And severe acute malnutrition, which is when a child weighs 70% below the normal healthy weight, can have devastating effects on children such as wasting, suffering from oedema or stunting.

In particular the first 1000 days from a child’s conception to just under their second birthday is the most important time for children to receive the right nutrition.

With help from people like you, UNICEF has reduced the number of children who are stunted from malnutrition by nearly 100 million since 1990.

A mother and child check in at a ward for malnourished children in Juba, South Sudan | South Sudan | 2018 | Njiokiktjien VII

Child Malnutrition  


million children under the age of 5 will be stunted by 2030

Umara’s Recovery From Severe Acute Malnutrition 

7-month old Umara was thin and listless when his mother Fanna brought him to a UNICEF-supported medical clinic. He rests his head against his mother’s shoulder as she carries him in her arms.

They had to flee from their village in Borno state, northeast Nigeria, due to the ongoing Boko Haram-related crisis. They now live in an IDP (internally displaced persons) camp in the state capital, Maiduguri.

Fanna says Umara’s been ill for the past few weeks. He was physically showing signs of severe acute malnutrition. The bones on his chest and back are prominent; his skin is loose around his arms and legs.

Umara was assessed by UNICEF staff who use a MUAC band (Mid-Upper Arm Circumference) to measure Umara’s nutritional status quickly and efficiently.

Umara was immediately given life-saving treatment – Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUFT), also known as ‘plumpy nut’. This is a peanut-based paste that’s high in calories and full of added vitamins and minerals. Three packets a day, for eight weeks, can save the life of a child like Umara.

A week after the UNICEF teams met Umara, he was back at the clinic for his second screening. There was a small, but steady improvement.

Even though he is still classified as severely malnourished, the improvement, both physically and in terms of his general well-being, made staff optimistic that he will make a full recovery.

No child should be dying or suffering from the consequences of becoming malnourish. Especially not when simple, affordable and efficient solutions like plumpy nut are available.

With the help of our supporters, UNICEF is determined to reach as many children like Umara so that no child is left behind.

7 month old Umara is assessed for malnutrition by a UNICEF Nutrition Officer at a UNICEF supported health clinic at an IDP camp in northeast Nigeria. Nigeria | 2016 | Vittozzi |