Fighting Starvation Through Science
The Starvation Cycle
Worldwide, 6 million children under the age of 5 die every year, and starvation is a direct or indirect cause of death in more than half of those cases. The brutal suffering caused by starvation, so often combined with other diseases, inflicts children everywhere in situations of extreme poverty. The cycle is vicious. Chronic starvation weakens the immune system, much like AIDS does, leaving young children to die of severe pneumonia, infections, or otherwise treatable illnesses.
GreaterGood.org partners with Partners in Health (PIH) to provide children with the food they need to fight malnutrition. Children receive Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTFs), high-calorie, fortified peanut butter-like paste containing a balance of lipids, sugar, and protein (macronutrients), vitamins, minerals (micronutrients), and calories. RUTFs require no preparation, are difficult to overeat, and they keep months or even years after opening. RUTFs offer a 90% – 95% recovery rate for severely malnourished children and allow them to recover at home.
Panicked, his mother scrounged for the money to pay a driver to take her and Lovenyou to University Hospital in Mirebalais, a 30-minute motorcycle drive from their home. PIH staff admitted Lovenyou immediately, hooked him up to an IV, and performed a battery of tests to ensure the toddler wasn’t suffering something in addition to starvation. (Some children’s cases become infinitely more complicated when staff discovers they also test positive for HIV or tuberculosis.) Tests showed nothing alarming but did confirm he was dehydrated and in dire need of additional nutrients.
Eight days later,
His mother religiously fed Nourimanba to Lovenyou three times a day, and his appetite returned. She talked about the experience in a shy, quiet tone, while her son squirmed in her arms. He eventually wiggled free and shimmied to the ground to play with the other children.