Malnutrition is the biggest contributor to child mortality with hunger being the single greatest threat to the world’s public health. In 2010 it was established that there was 925 million hungry people in the world. Malnutrition is a term which falls under hunger to define the lack of proper nutrition, caused by not having enough to eat, not eating enough of the right things, or being unable to use the food that one does eat. The grounds of malnutrition are complex, though the basic cause of protein-energy malnutrition and micronutrient malnutrition is poverty. These fundamental aspects of poverty are traits which portray one of the world’s poorest countries, Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone has been affected by a decade-long civil war only ending in 2002. Repercussions of the civil war destroyed Sierra Leone’s economy, public services and infrastructure; leaving 70% of Sierra Leonean’s living below the poverty line and 26% in extreme poverty. More than a third of children under five are chronically malnourished (34% aged between 6 and 59 months) and 7% being acute malnourished. Sierra Leone had one of the highest child mortality rates in the world. A simple solution would be to provide the malnourished children with nutritious fresh foods to complement their growth and sustainability, though in countries such as Sierra Leone many factors take place. In this situation food shortage is a concern, where particular nutrients are not sufficiently available through local foods. Complementary foods provide a micro-nutrient rich source to children in the battle to cure malnutrition. Many different concerns need to be considered when developing a plan to implement a complementary product; the product needs to be appropriate for the intended population, distribution is as important as the product itself, and storage of the complementary food.
For a long time now we have had a passion to help others. Ever since we both started studying in our respected fields we have always wanted to one day use our love and knowledge of nutrition to benefit others. Recently we have been given an opportunity to work with children in Sierra Leone to better their nutritional status. This came about through a charity know as Paradise Kids for Africa (PK4A). PK4A is an international non- governmental organization (NGO) who focuses on providing food, education and clothing to children in Africa. PK4A is the support arm of the work of Reverend Themi who looks after a primary and secondary school in Freetown, Sierra Leone alongside other missionary projects. Funding for PK4A is entirely by donation with volunteers working throughout Australia, America and Greece to raise funds.
We have been blessed to work with American companies VMP Nutrition and MyCell Technologies to implement a micro-nutrient rich gel stick, VMP +3, into the children’s diet to assess the impact and development in the children’s nutritional status. In October 2012 Jacqui will be travelling Freetown, Sierra Leone where one of the PK4A compounds is; on arrival we will collect relevant data from the children to analyze post-intervention. The trial will run for 2 months over 500 children, the product formulated by VMP Nutrition and MyCell Technologies which is a protein based, vitamin and mineral fortified gel, with omega-3 fatty acids will be distributed to the children twice a day. As Jacqui will only be there for a short visit we will leave the teachers and nurses of the school with instructions to measure the children once again at a one month mark and at the end of the trial. Once we receive all the data back we will work on collating it all to analyze the effectiveness of the treatment.
None of this would be possible without the support of VMP Nutrition and MyCell Technologies; they have kindly enough donated 40,000 sachets of VMP+3 for the trial to take place. The generosity of such companies helps us to try improving the quality of life for these children.
We will keep you updated on progress throughout our project, early next year we will be holding a charity event in Brisbane to show a short documentary of Jacqui’s trip to Sierra Leone.
We will need your help to raise funds to continue with providing the children with this complementary food. Be sure to check out www.pk4a.com where you can donate to this great cause.
Keep updated on our journey through our facebook page www.facebook.com/GETFITCHICKS or on instagram @getfitchicks.
Much love xo s&j xo