Meet Joemar Bacaltos. The two-year-old you see here has undergone a complete transformation thanks to the Ready-to-Use-Therapeutic Food (RUTF). Just one year before this photo was taken the little boy, the youngest child of a poor family from a remote rural area in the Philippines, he was so severely malnourished his parents feared for his life.
The UNICEF Kid Power team gets active to help save Joemar and the 300,000 children like him whose cases of severe malnutrition mean they may not make it to their fifth birthdays. Acute malnutrition or wasting is a life-threatening form of malnutrition due to inadequate diet, disease, or a combination of the two. Children with severe acute malnutrition (SAM) are 9 to 12 times more likely to die compared to normal children.
The impact of malnutrition on individual children and on society is far-reaching: It deprives children and the nations where they were born of their full potential. It's devastating for parents who are desperate to give their children the best start in life but through no fault of their own simply can't.
Thankfully, after a year of treatment with RUTF, Joemar was brought back from the brink. UNICEF Philippines Representative Lotta Sylwander, who followed his steady progress, reported during her last visit to him that "He has nearly reached his optimal weight. He is able to walk, say “mama,” “papa,” and “ate” [big sister], and play with his three older sisters. The happy and healthy Joemar now has beautiful round eyes and chubby cheeks."
To learn more about Joemar and UNICEF's work in the Philippines to help care for children suffering from SAM, check out Lotta Sylwander's full account of his amazing recovery.