Malnourished No More: RUTF and UNICEF Bring Abdullah Back to Life


Last year, UNICEF set ambitious goals to reach 250,000 severely malnourished children in Sudan, where acute malnutrition rates are amongst the highest in the region, with 16% of children under 5 affected. 

Abdullah Mohammed Ali is one. Now 1 years old, Abdullah, seen here playing with a UNICEF nutrition specialist, weighs only 5.6 kg, about half of what he should. But thanks to the miracle of Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) his doctors are confident he's well on his way to recovery. 

A few months before this picture was taken, Abudullah was losing his grip on life. Though his mother breastfed him after she gave birth, she stopped when she became pregnant again, unwittingly denying him the nutrition he desperately needed. Through no fault of their own, many mothers make this mistake and the consequences can be devastating. In Abudllah's case they nearly proved fatal. 

Brought to the hospital near death, Abudllah immediately received special therapeutic milk, which stabilized his condition. As he improved, the milk was replaced with solid food then RUTF, which he received at a UNICEF-supported malnutrition treatment program in the community where his family lives. There he  was treated for an infection with antibiotics and sent home with enough RUTF to last until his next check-up, when UNICEF nutrition specialists will check on his progress, weigh him — and give him more RUTF.

Often called a "miracle food," RUTF is a tasty high-energy peanut paste containing every thing kids suffering from severe acute malnutrition need to get back on track. It needs no refrigeration and stays fresh for up to two years. Plus parents don’t have to add fresh water, which can be limited in remote areas where kids are suffering most. All they have to do is open the packet, give it to their child and watch him or her growing healthy and strong.

In 2017, UNICEF treated 230,000 children like Abdullah with RUTF thanks to financial support of the EU, the U.S., South Korea and the UN Central Emergency Response Fund. 

Saving the lives of children suffering from malnutrition is a complex challenge UNICEF has mastered by providing RUTF to children along with safe water and improved sanitation and hygiene services to the communities where they are suffering. 

UNICEF Kid Poweris part of the solution too. By getting active with UNICEF Kid Power, children in the U.S. have unlocked 8.2 million packets of RUTF, enough to save 52,000 lives

To find out how you can help, check out how UNICEF Kid Power works and start taking concrete steps to save lives!

Photo by UNICEF Sudan