Nearly half of all deaths in children under 5 are attributable to undernutrition.
In 2022, it’s hard to imagine that a lack of food is STILL one of the leading causes of death amongst children around the world.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. There is a simple and life-saving solution; peanut paste.
What is Malnutrition?
Malnutrition occurs when your diet does not contain the right amount of nutrients. Undernutrition makes children in particular much more vulnerable to disease and death. When children are extremely malnourished they are known to suffer from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM), the most extreme and visible form of malnutrition.
Children with SAM have very low weight for their height and severe muscle wasting. Their bodies are too weak to fight off common childhood illnesses like diarrhoea and pneumonia. The cause of death is not always malnutrition itself, but rather these infections.
Children suffering from malnutrition need urgent life-saving treatment, which we can provide together.
Why Children Suffer From Malnutrition?
Increased food prices, food shortages, war or natural disasters can all cause reduced access to nutritious food. If these circumstances continue children can easily develop malnutrition.
Babies born in developing countries or conflict regions are also more likely to develop malnutrition. This is because they are less likely to receive the adequate nutrients and calories needed to thrive. Mothers who are suffering from undernutrition can also struggle to breastfeed their babies, leading to malnutrition and illness in both mother and child.
Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food
Before Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) children suffering from malnutrition could only receive treatment in hospitals. With most hospitals out of the reach, and too expensive for most families, many children did not receive the help they needed. The creation of RUTF has positively affected the lives of millions of children around the world.
Today, children severely ill with undernutrition can receive life-saving care in the comfort of their mother’s arms.
Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) comes in the form of a tasty, energy-packed paste made from peanuts, oil, sugar, milk powder and vitamin and mineral supplements. The paste doesn’t have to be mixed with water, which avoids the risk of contamination.
It has a long shelf life and comes in ready-to-eat sachets. These sachets can be eaten at home, making it extremely easy to use and practical where cooking facilities and fuel are limited. For children too weak to eat, a life-saving therapeutic milk is available.
The Fight Against Hunger
Normally, it takes six to eight weeks for a child to recover from Severe Acute Malnutrition when given RUTF every day. Typically, a child needs to eat 10-15kg over that period, which is three sachets of RUTF per day.
RUTF is UNICEF’s most effective tool we have for saving children from malnutrition. Over 90% of children who receive RUTF recover from malnutrition.
The paste is cost-effective which means more children can be reached and saved from hunger. It is also extremely practical and easy to deliver when working in crisis or conflict zones like Yemen.
Spotting the Signs of Child Malnutrition
UNICEF trains community health workers to spot the early signs of malnutrition in children. A simple tool like a, Mid Upper Arm Circumference tape, or MUAC, can easily identify children at risk of malnutrition.
The power of the community-based approach is that early detection and early treatment leads to better rates of survival and the treatment of many more children. It also empowers communities and is much more cost-effective than treatment in hospitals.
Protect Children From Malnutrition
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Please know that your monthly donation, no matter the amount, goes towards helping the world’s most disadvantaged children.
Please consider becoming a UNICEF monthly supporter today.