Plumpy'nut.

by: canadian gal

Tue Jul 14, 2009 at 15:29:06 PM EDT



Every year, malnutrition kills five million children - that's one child every six seconds.  Many do not get the milk, vitamins and minerals their developing bodies need. Furthermore, some mothers in these villages can't produce enough milk themselves and can't afford to buy it. Even if milk was available, its very difficult to store -- there's no electricity, so no refrigeration. Powdered milk is useless because most don't have clean water.

However 'Doctors Without Borders' or 'Médecins Sans Frontières' believes that there is a product that can save millions of these children.  And could possibly be the most important advance ever to cure and prevent malnutrition.


Plumpy'nut.

canadian gal :: Plumpy'nut.
A ready-to-eat, vitamin-enriched paste - it's cheap, easy to make, and extremely easy to use.  It is a simple formula: made of peanut butter, powdered milk, powdered sugar, and enriched with vitamins and minerals. It tastes like a peanut butter and is very sweet, and because of that many of the children love it. Developed by a nutritionist, it does not need refrigeration, water, or cooking; it is simply squeezed out in a paste and thus many children can even feed themselves.

Each serving is the equivalent of a glass of milk and a multivitamin.

In Niger, West Africa, where child malnutrition is widespread, 'Doctors Without Borders' has been handing out Plumpy'nut.  This was covered in a segment by 60 Minutes.

On a list of 177 developing countries, the United Nations ranked Niger dead last. More than 70% of the people are illiterate and earn less than a dollar a day. The average woman will give birth at least eight times in her life. But largely because of malnutrition, one in five of their children will die before they reach the age of five. Of those who survive, half will have stunted growth and never reach full adult height.

Niger has become Plumpy'nut's proving ground. A daily dose costs about $1; small factories mix it there and in three other African countries.  In Niger, most children need help now during what's called the "hunger season," just before the new harvest. Old food supplies have run out and about all that's left is millet, a basic grain women pound for porridge. But millet doesn't have enough nutrients to keep kids alive; in the western world it is used it as birdseed.

Dr. Susan Shepherd, a pediatrician who runs Doctors Without Borders in Niger, says children that would have been hospitalized in the past can now be treated at home. "The reason we can do that is because we can give children Plumpy'nut here in the ambulatory center, and they take a week's ration home. Moms treat their children at home and come back every week for a weight check," Dr. Shepherd explained.

Children are weighed and measured at the distribution sites. They're also examined to make sure they don't have any serious infections. Malnutrition destroys a child's immune system, so they're more susceptible to diseases and less capable of recovering from them.

If Plumpy'nut is the answer, how come kids are still dying?

"The answer is getting to kids earlier," Shepherd says. "Once children are as sick as she is, Plumpy'nut is not gonna save her."

What about peanut allergies?

"We just don't see it.  In developing countries food allergy is not nearly the problem that it is in industrialized countries."

Fortified ready-to-eat products, like Plumpy'nut, save children's lives. nutritional specialist for Médecins Sans Frontières, Dr. Milton Tectonidis says if the more countries were willing to spend part of their food aid on this, more companies will start making it.

"Even by taking a miniscule proportion of the global food aid budget, they will have a huge impact, huge impact!" Tectonidis says. "We're not even asking for billions. It will solve so much of the underlying useless death. So we gotta do that now."

"Wasted life. Just totally wasted life for nothing. Because they don't have this product, a little bit of peanut butter with vitamins," Tectonidis says. "What a waste."

Médecins Sans Frontières is an international, independent, medical humanitarian organisation that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, healthcare exclusion and natural or man-made disasters.

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Plumpy'nut. | 24 comments
plus its really fun to say the name.... (2.00 / 4)


"I spend my days and nights pondering the meaning of life, the state of the universe, and the Home Shopping Network." -- Donald Roller Wilson

My Obligatory, Traditional Plug... (2.00 / 5)
For Médecins Sans Frontières, proprietors of 'plumpy-nut.'  Check out the 'volunteer' page.  It seems as good and rewarding a sabbatical for medically experienced Westerners as becoming a Sadhu is for middle-aged Indian men.

[ Parent ]
I have no medical skills, (2.00 / 3)
but I offered them my services as a web developer and programmer several years ago. They never replied.

This is not a recession. It's a robbery.

[ Parent ]
You're a Good Man (2.00 / 3)
I'm an IT person too, sigh.

[ Parent ]
Buncha damn geeks... (2.00 / 2)
:~)

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

[ Parent ]
Look who's talking. (2.00 / 2)
:)

This is not a recession. It's a robbery.

[ Parent ]
Isn't it discouraging... (2.00 / 3)
...when you offer to help and they say no? Tacoma has been trying to start a food co-op for years. I contacted the person in charge of technology and commo and offered my services for web development, database creation and maintenance, desktop publishing, whatever they wanted. They held a couple of meetings that I was unable to attend, but I requested minutes thereof. What I got appeared to be a sketchy agenda. When I asked for more info, I was told to come to the next meeting, with which I again had a schedule conflict. I wound up wishing them well, but regretful that it just didn't seem like a good fit.

And I would so love to support a local food co-op...


I love my country, but I think we should start seeing other people.


[ Parent ]
It is discouraging, in a way, (2.00 / 2)
but then there are so many groups that need help that there is never a real problem finding someone that can use your services.  

This is not a recession. It's a robbery.

[ Parent ]
Feeding the children is a very worthy goal. (2.00 / 4)
I am all for battling hunger in every way we can. But there is more to it than feeding the poor. That is a losing proposition in the long run.

The average woman will give birth at least eight times in her life. But largely because of malnutrition, one in five of their children will die before they reach the age of five.

Contraception will do as much to combat hunger as handing out food. According to that post average income is less than $1 per day. These packets cost $1 each. Figure 6 living children per woman then you need $7 per day for her and her children. That's just for food.

This is unsustainable. Something more needs to be done or we will end up with 1/2 the world's population like this -

Of those who survive, half will have stunted growth and never reach full adult height.


This is not a recession. It's a robbery.

Many social scientist believe (2.00 / 2)
that as child death rates decline, so do birth rates. It seems the inclination of the worlds poor is to have many children so some will be left to care for them in old age.

Good diary CG.


[ Parent ]
I'm aware of that. (2.00 / 2)
But it takes time for that change to happen. You can see the figures in this diary. Women have 8 babies. 1 in 5 will die young. That leaves an awful lot of them still alive.

I've read that it is more about the need for many hands needed to provide for a family. Just like it was for people that lived on small farms in this country 200 years ago. As living conditions improve the need for large families decreases. Even then it still takes contraception and family planning to make a difference.  

This is not a recession. It's a robbery.


[ Parent ]
And I have no problem with education and birth control, (2.00 / 3)
but you can only suggest and nudge, you can't impose.

[ Parent ]
Well, I wasn't suggesting we send in the U.S. Army medical corp (2.00 / 2)
to perform mass sterilizations. However, there is a battle over this issue. It's not a simple matter of availability. Not when you have the pope going to Africa and saying that condoms cause AIDS. Nor, when the Bush administration tied aid to anti-abortion and anti-contraceptive efforts. It will take more than establishing a Planned Parenthood clinic here and there throughout Africa. This will require a real effort and right now there is strong opposition that needs to be overcome before anything can be done..

This is not a recession. It's a robbery.

[ Parent ]
I remember this diary. (2.00 / 4)
Loved it then. Love it now.

Has it already been a year?

That is totally cool.

Totally offtopic but when does the Moose hit the 1 year mark?



Just because they are posting on a progressive site doesn't make them progressives. - John Allen


september???? (2.00 / 2)
20th? 30th? not sure of the exact date... anyone?

"I spend my days and nights pondering the meaning of life, the state of the universe, and the Home Shopping Network." -- Donald Roller Wilson

[ Parent ]
WTF? (2.00 / 2)
You don't remember? I thought it was the woman's job to remember birthdays and anniversaries and all that other nonsense.

;~)

This is not a recession. It's a robbery.


[ Parent ]
well... (2.00 / 2)
in my family i usually do. that said - at that point i was pretty sleep-deprived from the night feedings - so its all a blur.

"I spend my days and nights pondering the meaning of life, the state of the universe, and the Home Shopping Network." -- Donald Roller Wilson

[ Parent ]
Ok, we'll give you a pass on this one. (2.00 / 3)
But only because of the baby. Otherwise you'd be in trouble.

This is not a recession. It's a robbery.

[ Parent ]
Ooops... (2.00 / 4)
Just causing trouble?

[ Parent ]
Just having a little fun (2.00 / 4)
Didn't you ever poke a hornets nest with a stick when you were a kid?

This is not a recession. It's a robbery.

[ Parent ]
Yeah... (2.00 / 3)
I hit it with a rock then ran into the kitchen where my Mom was and watched through the screen door.

[ Parent ]
I just checked the forum. (2.00 / 4)
We went live on Sept. 9th.

This is not a recession. It's a robbery.

[ Parent ]
This is a good one, CG (2.00 / 5)
One of many from you and goddamn important.  I second the comment on providing birth control, too.

-gadfly

"Life is like a comet.  Even if you're paying attention...you still miss a lot."  - Lucky, c.1987


Good one, CG (2.00 / 3)
And I saw that you got a front page shout out at the Daily Kos.  Kudos!

Plumpy'nut. | 24 comments
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