Ready-to-use therapeutic food for children with severe acute malnutrition
UNICEF supports community-based management of acute malnutrition with ready-to-use therapeutic foods (RUTF). The organization is the primary global procurer of RUTF, therapeutic milk and other essential products for treating severe acute malnutrition, and also provides technical support to governments and non-governmental organizations on their application and use. Another notable procurer is Médecins Sans Frontières.
Properly used, RUTF is safe, cost effective, and has saved hundreds of thousands of children’s lives in recent years. Severe acute malnutrition is a major killer of children under five, accounting for approximately 1 million deaths annually. Around 20 million children worldwide are estimated to be suffering from this condition, of which only approximately 10 -15 per cent currently receive treatment using RUTF. Although most RUTFs are currently manufactured in and imported from advanced economies, the technology to produce them has been introduced in developing countries with minimal industrial infrastructure. By 2012, African-produced RUTF represented 45% of the total purchased by UNICEF.