Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development Samantha Power, speaking in Sri Lanka on September 11, 2022, has promised new funding to support emergency therapeutic meals for children

US leads new commitment to fight childhood malnutrition

U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Power, speaking in Sri Lanka on September 11, 2022, pledged new funding to support emergency therapeutic feeding for children – Copyright AFP SAUL LOEB

On Wednesday, the United States pledged $280 million to fight child malnutrition by providing ready-to-eat packages to countries suffering from severe food insecurity.

At an event on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, the US Agency for International Development pledged $200 million of a total $280 million event with UNICEF to stop childhood wasting, low weight for height, caused by poor nutrition.

“The truth is that wasting is treatable,” said USAID chief Samantha Power.

“Complex cases require more specialized medical care, but for simple cases caught early, treatment is cost-effective and can be done at home,” she said.

“However, only a third of wasted children today receive the treatment they need. And with more funding, better delivery systems, and better access to health care, we can empower communities to save their children’s lives.”

The so-called ready-to-eat medicinal products are highly nutritious pastes given to severely malnourished children.

Invented by French explorer André Brienne, they can be consumed directly and have a long shelf life.

Power said the full course of the therapy packs takes several weeks and requires supervision by a healthcare professional, and the cost of treatment is just over $100 per child.

The event, also organized by non-governmental organizations and Senegal, came just hours after US President Joe Biden pledged $2.9 billion in new funding to fight global food insecurity.

Food shortages have been exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a major grain exporter, and Somalia is threatened by famine after unsuccessful rainy seasons.

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