In Ethiopia malnutrition is estimated to contribute to more than one third of all child deaths; wasting contributes 23% of these deaths. In 2011 302,000 children under five were estimated to be severely wasted at any one time (EDHS 2011). Malnutrition is rarely listed as the direct cause of child mortality, but lack of access to nutritious foods and poor feeding practices contribute to malnutrition and to infection, such as diarrhea, pneumonia, measles and malaria, which in turn undermine a child''s nutritional status.
A recently developed home-based treatment for severe acute malnutrition is improving the lives of hundreds of thousands of children a year. Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) has revolutionized the treatment of severe malnutrition - providing foods that are safe to use at home and ensure rapid weight gain in severely malnourished children. The advantage of RUTF is that it is a ready-to-use paste that does not need to be mixed with water, hereby avoiding the risk of bacterial proliferation in case of accidental contamination. The product, which is based on peanut butter mixed with dried skimmed milk and vitamins and minerals, can be consumed directly by the child and provides sufficient nutrient intake for complete recovery.
As of September 2012, 73% of the health posts and 62% of the health centers in Ethiopia are running Outpatient Therapeutic Programme (OTP). 30% of health centers and 96% of hospitals are treating the complicated cases of severe acute malnutrition.
Zemero health center, a public health institute serving a rural population of 65,000, is in the process of establishing such an OTP. Its staff submitted a proposal to IFA to support this program. IFA has agreed to help and any donations would be gratefully received, please refer to our Donate page.