Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Prevent Malnutrition

According to Nicolas de Torrente, the Executive Director of Doctors Without Borders U.S.A, in a letter to the editor of the New York Times, the quality of food children intake after the age of exclusive breast-feeding is just as important as the quantity. To maintain health and spurn growth, children between the ages of 6 and 24 months need energy from grains and fats, along with essential nutrients found in animal-source proteins like milk.

“In ‘malnutrition hot spots' like the Sahel, East Africa and South Asia, where most of the world's five million malnutrition-related deaths occur each year, poor families already struggle, and often fail, to provide their children with such varied diets,” said Torrente.

The director of Doctors Without Borders believes it is critical to improve the World Food Program’s ability to distribute general food as the global food crisis carries on.

“But increasing the quantity of food aid is not enough,” said Torrente. “Stemming and reversing the high rate of malnutrition-related deaths in the young should be a top priority.”

By providing “ready-to-use” nutrient-rich and dense foods as well as other nutritional supplements targeted to the specific needs of small children, Torrente is convinced of a promising impact.

“Enhancing existing food aid with these supplements may increase the global cost of food aid, but if the world truly seeks to contain this growing crisis, this cannot be seen as a luxury,” said Torrente.

-- Jaimie Hwang

Source: Doctors without Borders