Survival Gifts® are Real Gifts with Real Impact

What is severe acute malnutrition?

Severe acute malnutrition is the most extreme and visible form of malnutrition. Its face is a child – frail and skeletal – who requires urgent treatment to survive. It occurs as a result of a recent deficiency of protein, energy, minerals and vitamins leading to the loss of body fat and muscles tissues. It’s heartbreaking—especially in children.

Children with severe acute malnutrition have very low weight for their height and severe muscle wasting. They may also have nutritional oedema – characterized by swollen feet, face and limbs.

Currently, millions of children in Yemen could be pushed to ‘the brink of starvation’ due to huge shortfalls in humanitarian aid funding amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Preventing and treating severe acute malnutrition is critical to child survival and their long-term development.

In Yemen alone:

  • 23,500 children with severe acute malnutrition will be at increased risk of dying if necessary aid is received by the end of August 2020.
  • An additional 30,000 children could develop life-threatening severe acute malnutrition over the next six months
  • This would increase the overall number of malnourished children under the age of five could to a total of 2.4 million – almost half of all under-fives in the country and a rise of around 20 per cent;
  • An additional 6,600 children under the age of five could die from preventable causes by the end of the year – an increase of 28 per cent.
  • Right now UNICEF only has 39% of the lifesaving supplies need to reach children.

Treating Malnutrition

Children with severe acute malnutrition need urgent life-saving treatment to survive.

Until relatively recently, these children were only treated in hospitals where they received therapeutic milk along with medical care; and many more were never reached at all. With the creation of ready-to-use therapeutic food -Plumpy Nut®—a high-energy, micronutrient enhanced paste used to treat children under age five who are affected by severe acute malnutrition—treatment has changed dramatically.

A community-based approach to treating malnutrition means health workers are trained in early detection to recognize cases of severe acute malnutrition and provide Plumpy‘Nut® and routine medical care. At the same time, health workers learn to recognize medical complications and refer those children to hospitals and health centres for further in-patient treatment.

What is Plumpy’Nut®?

  • It’s a nutrient-rich peanut based ready-to-use therapeutic food, composed of sugar, oils, vitamins and minerals
  • It has a two-year shelf life and doesn’t need to be mixed with water, cooked or refrigerated
  • It allows for some children to be treated at home instead of hospitals, which are often not accessible to children living in remote areas 
  • Three packets a day for one week will help an undernourished child gain up to two pounds
  • A complete course of treatment using Plumpy’Nut® takes between six and eight weeks and can transform a child from near death to survival

Nebila, Ethiopia

Desire, Malawi

Abel, Angola