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Call for local manufacture of nutrition-rich, therapeutic foods.

The import by aid agencies of ready-to-use therapeutic foods manufactured in Europe or the USA for treatment of malnutrition in poor countries has been criticised not only as a waste of money but also a lost opportunity to develop local manufacturing capacity of such foods. Countries such as Botswana and India have developed their own ready-to-use therapeutic foods, and in 2009 India refused to allow UNICEF to import commercial brands. However, the UN and many other aid agencies prefer to buy branded products manufactured in the developed world because they meet international food standards, while those produced in poor countries may not. Partnerships between poor countries and private sector multinationals with manufacturing and distribution experience in developing countries have been proposed, but these products would be unaffordable to the poor because they would be sold at commercial rates. In a recent commentary, experts caution that the debate around commercial ready-to-use therapeutic foods as a "miracle" cure distracts attention from sustainable food production programmes as well as promotion of breastfeeding. Severe acute malnutrition can be treated with local foods. (1,2)

(1.) Aid policy: call for local manufacture of nutrition-rich food. IRIN News, 6 June 2011.

(2.) Latham M, Jonsson U, Sterken E, et al. Ready-to-use therapeutic food stuff. Can the children be saved with fortified peanut paste? Journal of the World Public Health Nutrition Association 2011;2(2):62-85.

DOI: 10.1016/S0968-8080(11)38594-1

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Title Annotation:ROUND UP: Health sector policy, financing and privatisation
Publication:Reproductive Health Matters
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:4E
Date:Nov 1, 2011
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