We invariably come back to the basics: food and water. Our most recent post, highlighted the importance of access to clean water. Here we turn our attention to the importance of adequate nutrition.
Nearly one out of every two children in Guatemala suffers from malnutrition.
As we approach the end of the year 2023, that is a mind-boggling statistic. Unfortunately, it tracks with our clinical experience.
The World Food Programme has this to say in regards to malnutrition in Guatemala:
On market day (Thursdays and Sundays in our town), one can find an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables (as evidenced by top image, which is a picture taken at the open air market in our community). Sadly, many of the patients we serve cannot afford to purchase sufficient food. This problem is compounded by attempts to stretch meager household food budgets by purchasing cheap processed junk food (see prior blog post for more thoughts on that topic).
In many ways, malnutrition is not an availability problem, but an access problem.
Enter RUSF (ready-to-use supplementary food).
At our center, we calculate a z-score for each child under five. If they meet criteria for moderate or severe malnutrition, we provide them with RUSF packets and a water filter (i.e. FOOD + WATER).
The RUSF we currently distribute is Nutri Listo.
Nutri Listo is produced locally in Guatemala. Thus, much like Ecofiltros in regards to addressing the need for access to clean water, Nutri Listo allows us to tackle the problem of malnutrition using an in-country solution.
Patients seem to find Nutri Listo pleasing to the palate. And, it works. Increased caloric availability coupled with access to clean water, yields improved growth and mitigates long-term effects of early childhood stunting.
Access to nutrient rich food and clean water has the power to transform the lives of our youngest and most vulnerable patients.
Feeling inspired to participate in this transformative power?
top photo courtesy of Eric Parsons Photography