Ethiopia: New way to tackle malnutrition

News and Press Release
Originally published
NAZARETH, 25 February (IRIN) - A radical new approach for treating severe malnutrition, which experts say will save thousands of lives, was unveiled in Ethiopia on Monday.
Nutrition experts, meeting in the town of Nazareth, said the new method involves treating a series of micronutrients rather than targeting protein - which was traditionally seen as the treatment for certain types of malnutrition.

"The challenge to us are the pockets of malnutrition, the pockets of famine which still persist," UNICEF head in Ethiopia David Bassiouni said. "This training is important in preventing the deaths of thousands of Ethiopian children in areas most severely affected by the drought."

Professor Mike Golden, a world-renowned nutritionist, said mistakes were still being made in treating children with severe malnutrition.

Golden, emeritus professor at Aberdeen University in Scotland, said that often health experts will give high doses of protein or salts which end up killing the patient.

He added that in hospitals around Africa, death rates for treating severe malnutrition are in excess of 40 percent.

But by using the new approach - which has been devised over the last 20 years - the figure can be reduced to about 2 percent.

"Most of the text books are wrong," Golden told the launch of the workshop in Nazareth. "We have got an enormous amount to learn."

The method is being used in countries like Burundi and Prof Golden said it would be expanded to cover Ethiopia.

Bassiouni urged nutritionists to "familiarise" themselves with the new technology so that severe malnutrition could be effectively tackled.


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