The International Centre for Diarrhoeal Diseases Control, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B) has formulated a special cereal made from local ingredients that will help address severe acute malnutrition (SAM) in children. The ready-to-use therapeutic food is made of rice, lentil, chickpeas, milk powder, sugar and soya bean oil. It is a protein-rich food that could potentially help save 600,000 children under the age of 5 in the country every year from severe malnutrition. Any food that can be produced domestically and marketed successfully would mean that SAM-related deaths and intellectual retardation of children due to this form of malnutrition can be cut drastically.
Making it available at a price that is within reach of poor communities is of primary concern. But that the principal ingredients of the product are all easily available, should make it possible to produce the cereal in bulk for mass consumption.
The initial clinical results conducted by ICDDR,B have produced very positive results. The next phase would require piloting of the project in both rural and urban settings to see how well the different variations of the cereal may perform in increasing weight among undernourished children. Interestingly, the cereal produced can actually be marketed to many Asian countries which have similar problems of underage children with severe acute malnutrition but do not produce such a cereal.
We look forward to the successful piloting of the project by the ICDDR,B and the early induction of the cereal so that severe acute malnutrition among children can be successfully combated.