Therapeutic Food to Fight Malnutrition
The developed and underdeveloped countries such as Asia, Africa, and South America face the leading challenges related to Food and Nutrition Insecurity and nutritionally related diseases. Food storage & Poor access to adequate health facilities have taken center stage among the global challenges, especially in the most developing and underdeveloped countries mentioned above. Malnutrition and Undernourishment are the two significant health-related growing issues in the world.
Malnutrition Prevalence in India:
The significant public health problem in India is malnutrition among under-five children. This is reflected by the fact that underweight children’s prevalence is among the highest in the world in India. It is also observed that the bulk of malnutrition in India is a concentrated phenomenon that is, a relatively small number of districts, states, and villages comprise a large share of the malnutrition burden- only five states and 50% of towns account for about 80% of the malnutrition burden. Also, In India, the prevalence of Severe acute malnutrition (SAM) is 7.5%.
How COVID-19 has worsened the condition of malnutrition?
The pandemic outbreak has only worsened India’s problem of malnutrition. During the coronavirus pandemic in India, Tens of thousands of children slept on an empty stomach. India has taken small steps over the last few years to fight against malnutrition, resulting in a significant decline in the child mortality rate. If this progress were continued, India would have met its ‘sustainable Goal’ of reducing the mortality rate of under-five by 25% by 2030. However, the little progress too came to a halt as the lockdown forced millions of children to stay out of school. Anganwadis were also closed, which meant that thousands of children in rural areas could not get food under the Mid-Day meal program. This led to UNICEF’s conclusion that India is likely to witness an increase in malnutrition by at least 10%.
Ready-to-Use-Therapeutic Food (RUTF) as the Solution to Malnutrition:
Foods designed for specific health-related issues, usually to meet the nutritional requirement, are therapeutic food. The RUTF is a mixture of milk powder, powdered vitamins, minerals, vegetable oil, and peanut butter with the proper nutrients needed by an individual. This medicinal food’s primary purpose is to use it for emergency feeding of malnourished children or to supplement a person’s diet with special nutrition requirements, such as the elderly. RUTF does not require any special preparation before consumption, making it practical and ideal for cooking facilities and fuel limiting constraints.
Severe acute malnutrition is reported to account for more than one million preventable child deaths. The reported mortality was as high as 20-30%. As per the WHO Diagnostic criteria for diagnosis, a cure rate of 75% with <10% mortality has been set as the minimum goal. Ready to use therapeutic food (RUTF) is used as a solution for managing SAM cases. The case study was carried out in Kerala, among 67 children with SAM admitted in SAT Hospital, Govt. Medical College showed that 33 (51.6%) achieved cure, 18 (28.1%) were not cured, 12 (14.1%) lost to follow up, and 4(6.25%) died, which concludes that the cure rate was less than the goal of 75%, but the mortality was <10%.