What is therapeutic ready-to-use food?
Commercialised therapeutic RUF takes the form of a peanut/milk-based paste with all nutrients essential to treat severe acute malnutrition. It comes in individually wrapped airtight foil packets, that are resistant to bacterial infection and easy to distribute. The product has a long shelf life, making it easy to store, transport and to use in hot climates as an efficient way to provide milk to children under three.
- Ministries of Health and those that support them need to address the critical issues that prevent 97% of children suffering from severe acute malnutrition from getting life-saving treatment.
- Donors need to review the quality of food aid addressed towards malnutrition in children under the age of three, and refocus their efforts away from fortified blended foods towards providing RUF with superior nutrient value, ease-of-use and effectiveness.
- UNICEF and WFP must ensure RUF is available in adequate supplies; this will mean both fundraising and finding solutions for sustainable production.
- WHO must support countries to implement their new growth standards, develop recommendations for effectively treating non-severe malnutrition and promote controlled and operational research to replicate and expand on promising experiences of RUF.
- Ministries of Health, academic nutritionists and other organisations working on malnutrition must implement projects to further document the benefits of therapeutic RUF beyond the treatment for severe malnutrition.
- Researchers, producers and users of RUF must work together to develop new products, adapted for use in the early treatment and prevention of child malnutrition, but also, for other uses such as for maternal nutrition to prevent low birth weight.