Saving More Lives with Oats

We’re very excited to share news of the latest research on how we can save the lives of more children with a simple recipe change. Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) is the gold standard for treating severe acute malnutrition across the globe. It is a peanut-based nutrient rich paste that can be administered at home to bring children back from the brink of starvation. Recent clinical trials with our partner Project Peanut Butter have revealed that adding oats makes the treatment even more effective.

The international standard for RUTF uses a binding additive derived from hydrogenated vegetable oil. This additive prevents the oil from separating and improves the consistency of RUTF. However, research has shown that it also can damage the gut lining of the children (see graphic below). The damage is inconsequential for a healthy child, but for a malnourished child it can result in breeches that allow bacteria to leak into the body and cause infection.

In the picture above the red dots are bacteria, the green is mucous and purple is gut tissue. ‘CMC ‘is RUTF with hydrogenated oil additive. ‘Water’ is a picture of  normal gut health. In RUTF with the additive, the red bacteria dots actually enter and cause damage to the gut tissue.

The good news is, by substituting oats in place of hydrogenated vegetable oil, the recovery rate increased by 8% and death decreased by 2%. The oat powder binds with the healthy oil from the peanuts to maintain the right consistency and it’s an even healthier and more nutrient-dense product.

And there’s more good news! Although oat powder isn’t locally produced in the quantities needed, General Mills has generously agreed to donate the surplus oats they purchase for their cereals to be used for RUTF produced in the factory in Malawi.

We need your support to get 75,000lbs of oat powder from General Mills to Malawi to serve 10,500 severely malnourished children.

It costs just $3 per child 

3 shipping containers (25,000lbs oat flour each) x  $10,771 (cost of shipping each container) 

$32,313 (total cost) – $15,500 (already raised) $16,813 GOAL

Will you help us save more lives?

 

Quick Trip to Sierra Leone

By Rachael Watson

I wish I could bring you all to a clinic. There’s nothing like it. It’s my happy place.

My trip to visit our work in Sierra Leone was cut short by the CV-19 pandemic, but I was able to pack a lot into a few short days.  Since 2011 we have partnered with Project Peanut Butter in Sierra Leone, first to help complete the factory in the capital of Freetown, and later in supporting the clinic programs in the remote Pujehon district.

At the factory, there is typically a team of 14 local full-time staff and up to 10 additional team members working to produce RUTF and other nutrition products used for malnutrition research projects. On the Friday we visited, the core team was onsite working on upgrades to the factory and planning production for the next research study.  They are an amazing team!

Sunday we traveled the five hours to Pujehon. Staying in the solar powered office/volunteer house put us in the middle of the action, which started at 7am Monday morning.  The local clinic team loaded up the supplies and we headed out to the Bandajuma clinic. There were 24 children enrolled in the program at various stages of recovery. (It typically takes 2-3 months on RUTF for a full recovery from Severe Acute Malnutrition). We had 11 new children enrolled– which is a bit high for this time of year– but we were prepared with enough RUTF for everyone.

It might seem odd that a malnutrition clinic is my happy place, but it’s the place where a life and death problem is solved, with something as simple as an enriched peanut butter paste (RUTF). There is a lot of science that has gone into developing RUTF, and it takes a lot of work to produce it in Freetown, set up the clinics in Pujehon, train the nurses and organize and distribute the supplies.

But during those hours in the clinic – in the same moments my heart is shredded looking into the eyes of child on the brink of starvation – I’m overwhelmed with gratitude that there is a solution. A solution that’s available right there, in that place and moment, which is literally the difference between life and death for that child.

This is why the clinic is my happy place. It doesn’t matter that there’s no reprieve from the heat, or that I almost got peed on a few times when taking the measurements. Nothing else matters much when you’re a part of saving a child’s life.

I only wish I could better convey the experience in the clinic to everyone who has so generously supported us over the years. Your gifts have saved thousands of lives. In a world where lots of things seem to be going wrong, you’re a vital part of something that’s actually going right.  “Thank you” will never sufficiently express my gratitude, or that of the thousands of mothers whose children are alive today because of you. Your contribution is truly invaluable!

With gratitude beyond words,

Rachael

 

Looking Back on the Success of 2019: Sierra Leone

As the year, and decade, comes to a close we are overjoyed to share the successes from work in Sierra Leone through our partnership with Project Peanut Butter (PPB).

Sierra Leone Highlights in 2018-19

1. Operating 103 PPB malnutrition clinics for children and women in Pujehun and Western Rural Districts
2. Supplying RUTF for the entire nation, roughly 17,000 cartons annually
3. Developed and distributed supplementary food for malnourished pregnant women
4. Trialed novel RUTF with oat as an added ingredient, which improved recovery by 10%
5. Created jobs for 75 locals who produce therapeutic food and deliver health services
6. Treated over 12,000 children and 3,000 pregnant women
7. Using 100% solar power for operation in Pujehun

 

In partnership with Project Peanut Butter, we have accomplished so much. 
Thank you for supporting this work!

 

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