Monday December 9, 2019

Mia Farrow Promoting IRC’s Approach to Treating Severe and Moderate Acute Malnutrition

"Once you see a child dying of hunger in a world where it isn't necessary, in a world of abundance ... you have frustration," she said

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Mia Farrow, IRC, Malnutrition
FILE - Three-year-old Fatime Mahamat, suffering from severe malnutrition, cries as she rests in a nutritional health clinic run with the support of UNICEF, in Mao, Chad, Nov. 4, 2012. VOA

Groups of women had traveled for days to find care for their starving children in Chad, blankly staring in exhaustion and with little hope. But other women smiled, relieved to see their children “fattened” by a new and simplified initiative for hunger. Mia Farrow.

In an interview with The Associated Press, actress Mia Farrow recounted the scene during her visit to the Central African nation’s Mangalme area as an envoy for the International Rescue Committee.

“Once you see a child dying of hunger in a world where it isn’t necessary, in a world of abundance … you have frustration,” she said. “When I saw this simple solution … I said yes, there is an answer.”

She is promoting the IRC’s approach to treating severe and moderate acute malnutrition, one that contrasts with the widespread method using two different products administered by two different agencies.

Mia Farrow, IRC, Malnutrition
FILE – Human rights activist Mia Farrow talks with staff from the International Rescue Committee while visiting an internally displaced persons camp in Juba, South Sudan, April 2, 2019. VOA

UNICEF provides a fortified peanut butter treatment to children with severe acute malnutrition, while the World Food Program, another United Nations agency, provides a blended flours treatment to children with moderate acute malnutrition. A child with moderate acute malnutrition could arrive at a facility that only serves severe cases and not receive treatment.

Efficiency, cost

In Chad, about 350,000 children are suffering from acute malnutrition. That number could grow as the landlocked Sahel nation faces a growing extremist threat in its Lake Chad region and refugees continue to arrive from neighboring countries. Rapid desertification exacerbates the hunger and poverty.

Chad ranks 186th of 189 countries in the 2018 Human Development Index and has one of the world’s highest levels of hunger, according to the World Food Program. More than 66% of the population of 15.5 million lives in severe poverty.

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The IRC hopes to make treating malnutrition more efficient and less costly. CEO David Miliband has said the new approach could save millions of lives over the next decade since only 20% of some 50 million acutely malnourished children worldwide have access to treatment.

The IRC hopes its pilot programs in Chad and Mali can help inform World Health Organization guidelines on treating malnutrition and allow health workers to deliver the treatments within communities and not just at clinics.

“We don’t have to watch children die,” Farrow said.

‘Promising’ approach

Mia Farrow, IRC, Malnutrition
In an interview with The Associated Press, actress Mia Farrow recounted the scene during her visit to the Central African nation’s Mangalme area as an envoy. Pixabay

World Food Program spokesman Herve Verhoosel said the agency “fully supports testing and building the evidence for simplified approaches such as the one being put forward by IRC. The approach shows promise, and we’re enthusiastic about it as one of the strategies that may help improve treatment of acute malnutrition.”

Malnutrition is a major cause of maternal and child illness and death in Chad, he said. He acknowledged that in remote settings some women and children may walk for hours or days to a clinic only to find treatment for one type of malnutrition available — and could be turned away if they don’t fit the criteria.

“Simplified protocols could provide a promising solution to these issues,” he said. For them to be effective, “we need to ensure that these services are also available in communities, not just in health clinics.”

He noted that some evidence gaps remain on the effectiveness of the approach but said U.N. agencies are working with the IRC to generate needed data.

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The IRC pilot in Chad is being carried out in partnership with Chad’s health ministry, WFP and UNICEF. Nearly 2,000 malnourished children already have been admitted. (VOA)

Next Story

FAO: 822 Million Suffer from Chronic Malnutrition; 2K Million Face Food Insecurity

The food of the future will be conditioned by the increase of the world's population, rapid urbanization and changes in diets, especially in middle and low-income countries

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FILE - A Congolese boy has his arm measured for malnutrition in a clinic run by medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres in the remote town of Dubie in Congo's southeastern Katanga province, March 18, 2006. VOA

Almost 822 million people suffered from chronic malnutrition and about 2,000 million had food insecurity in 2018, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN has said in a report.

New Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Qu Dongyu, faces the challenge of mobilizing more public and private efforts against malnutrition, in a clear rise in the world for the last three years.

Qu will follow the steps of Brazilian José Graziano da Silva, who during his eight years in charge of the FAO will insist on the need to achieve healthier and more sustainable diets as producing enough food globally has not been enough to end hunger, Efe news reported.

Experts demand actions against poor diets to eradicate any ways of malnutrition by 2030, a global goal set by the Agenda for Sustainable Development.

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Experts demand actions against poor diets to eradicate any ways of malnutrition by 2030, a global goal set by the Agenda for Sustainable Development. Pixabay

“Governments must facilitate a change in private sector activity in favour of more nutritious, affordable and accessible” Director of Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition (GloPAN) Sandy Thomas told Efe.

She urged the need to reach a common understanding of the “appropriate combination of regulations and incentives”, such as economic aid and subsidies that should support the transformation within the private sector through investment, innovation and efficiency.

It is estimated that in 2016 countries from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) invested more than 200 billion dollars in aid to agriculture. This quantity doubles when including aid from emerging countries.

Current subsidies have led to a model where “producers do not offer what they should” as they continue to provide, above all, cereals such as corn and rice, and products such as meat while it’s more important to eat more fruits and vegetables, the report said.

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A Somali boy receives a polio vaccination at the Tunisian hospital in Mogadishu. The hospital treats local diseases, malnutrition, and other injuries. VOA

Poor diet and malnutrition are responsible for 1 out of 3 deaths and can cause noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes or cancer, which cost the world more than 6,3 trillion dollars per year.

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Being overweight and obesity have become a “tsunami” that, paradoxically, coexists with hunger in many countries and requires “more collaboration between sectors,” said Chief Executive Officer of the Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance (NCDs) Katie Dain.

The food of the future will be conditioned by the increase of the world’s population, rapid urbanization and changes in diets, especially in middle and low-income countries. Executive Director of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), Lawrence Haddad, urged the sector to find “new allies” since governments or donors “alone” will not be able to end malnutrition. (IANS)