Therapeutic Food Makers Look to Collaborate with Govt. in Fighting Malnutrition

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CMAM Association of India, comprising manufacturers of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTF) used in Community Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM), has extended support to the Government to supply RUTF and develop new/other products so as to eradicate Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) under the Poshan Abhiyan.

In a communication to the Ministry of Women & Child Development, CMAM Association of India has offered to support and implement any feeding protocols to be laid down by the Government of India in the upcoming nutrition guidelines using its R&D and product development prowess to ensure that the children receive adequate nutrition.

“CMAM Association is poised to align with various nutrition interventions through development of therapeutic products as prescribed by the government and extending the PM’s vision of a self-reliant India. With a manufacturing capacity of more than 20,000 MT of Ready-to-use Therapeutic Foods annually, the members of the association can adequately meet the domestic RUTF and other therapeutic food requirements. Currently CMAM Association members are manufacturing products which meet the global WHO and UNICEF standards and are exporting these products for use in other parts of the world,” said Akshat Khandelwal, President CMAM Association.

Feeding protocols that use a combination of home-based food and high-quality energy dense nutrition supplement, including all micronutrients, which are easy to transport to villages, deliver to families and administer to children need to be urgently explored, CMAM Association has stated.

The drop in nutrition levels of children due to COVID outbreak could leave these children more vulnerable to infectious diseases. The most vulnerable among these children are the ones affected by SAM. According to Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Children with Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) have nine times higher risk of dying than well-nourished children. CMAM Association has pointed to the urgent need for collaboration between government, therapeutic food manufacturers and civil society to meet the intricate challenge of SAM in the country.

According to the Association, RUTF comprises energy dense foods which are specifically tailored for children suffering from SAM and are not meant to be a substitute for breastfeeding or home cooked food as is generally believed.

RUTF has been successful in preventing deaths and helping children recover from Severe Acute Malnutrition in India and across the world. RUTF can also ensure faster recovery of children from SAM thereby reducing the cost of feeding. The cost of treating a child with RUTF over 8-12 weeks is already comparable to the costs laid down by the Supplementary Nutrition Programme (SNP) for SAM children for a year.

Since RUTF can ensure the recovery of a SAM child in 2-3 months at the community level in most of the cases and reduce the need for treatment at Nutrition Rehabilitation Centres (NRCs), it reduces the chances of infections and the overall cost of treatment. Various programmes conducted by state governments and other agencies in the past show the effectiveness of this product.

CMAM Association also intends to explore the possibility of producing RUTF with the same consistency, quality and nutritional value with alternate ingredients to suit local taste and ensure consumption by all children in India.

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