The Right Stuff for Saving Kids' Lives

May 17, 2017

Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food is saving lives around the world. And UNICEF Kid Power kids are working — and playing — to keep it coming.

See our Infographic on how UNICEF Kid Power saves lives.

In American families and classrooms, there's a growing movement to empower kids to "get active and save lives."

The UNICEF Kid Power program converts the boundless energy of kids — and their innate desire to help other kids — into funding for Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF). RUTF, often called the "miracle food," is UNICEF's go-to treatment for severely malnourished children around the world.

Younas (below) is one such child. Seven weeks before this photo was taken at a UNICEF-supported clinic in Pakistan, the 10-month-old was brought in critically malnourished. He was losing weight each day, and along with it, the hope of recovery. RUTF put him back on the path to good health.

Unicef RUTF malnutrition Kid Power Pakistan

RUTF is a high-energy, vitamin-packed peanut paste. It needs no refrigeration and stays fresh for up to two years. It can be eaten straight from the packet, so parents don't have to add water, often a source of contamination in the countries where children are suffering the most. All caregivers have to do is open the packet, feed their kids and watch them grow healthy and strong.

Ten-month-old Younas went from severely malnourished to healthy in a matter of weeks

When Younas's mother, Haseena, first brought him to the clinic in Pakistan's Punjab province, Younas was listless, frail and underweight (below left). After a health worker measured his weight, length and Mid Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC), the diagnosis was official: severe acute malnutrition (SAM). 

The clinic provided Haseena with a supply of RUTF packets and counseling on health, hygiene and nutrition. Seven weeks later, Younas was back for a follow-up visit (below right), and the news was good: His upper arm measurement had improved and he had gained nearly two pounds. 

Malnutrition is a serious threat in rural areas of Pakistan, where nearly half of all children are chronically malnourished.  

UNICEF Kid Power converts youthful energy into lifesaving aid for children around the world

UNICEF is the world's largest provider of RUTF in the field. We also purchase eighty percent of the world's supply of RUTF. The UNICEF Kid Power program delivered 1,237,350 RUTF packets to Pakistan in 2016 alone — enough to treat 2,372 children like Younas.

You can download the free UNICEF Kid Power App or get a UNICEF Kid Power Band here — and go on a mission to help give severely malnourished children around the world a chance to survive and thrive. 

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Photo credits: Banner: © UNICEF/UN056301/Oloo; Younas with RUTF: © UNICEF/UN025832/Malik; Younas with MUAC, left: © UNICEF Pakistan/2016/Zaidi; Younas with MUAC, right: © UNICEF Pakistan2016/Malik