A Holiday Gift That Can Help Save Lives

A severely malnourished infant in Sierra Leone has just received a Christmas present, and it will save his life. The little girl was given a peanut paste called Plumpy’Nut. This “magic food” saves children from potentially fatal malnutrition.

Navyn Salem, the director of the nonprofit Edesia, brought Plumpy’Nut on his visit to Sierra Leone in early December. Rhode Island-based Edesia is helping Sierra Leone’s Department of Health tackle deadly malnutrition. Thanks to generous donations, Salem is able to bring additional food directly to them.

During these Christmas holidays, where the emphasis is so often on material gifts, we must not forget that there are millions of hungry children around the world fighting for their lives. These kids just need a little generosity from someone to get a second chance in the future.

Malnutrition in children under 5 can cause lasting physical or mental damage, and even death. Today, with global hunger reaching its most dangerous level in decades, malnutrition is stalking children in many countries.

Dozens of countries are threatened with famine, according to the United Nations World Food Program. WFP says its analysis in the 43 countries at risk shows that families “are forced to eat less, or skip meals altogether, feed children rather than adults and, in some extreme cases, eat locusts, wild leaves or cacti to survive – as in Madagascar. . “

Yemen, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burkina Faso are among the countries facing the most serious food emergencies.

And it will be much worse. A group of charities led by Action Against Hunger wrote a letter to world leaders with this terrible warning: 2022. “

Every 11 seconds

Hunger charities including CARE, Bread for the World, 1000 Days and Edesia are urging the US Congress to adopt the Global Law on Prevention and Treatment of Malnutrition (HR 4693 and S. 2956). The bill would allow the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to scale up nutritional interventions like Plumpy’Nut in the fight against global hunger.

In an open letter to Congress, charities say, “Now is the time to act. Malnutrition is completely preventable, but it is a major underlying cause of child death worldwide.

Malnutrition claims an estimated 3.1 million children’s lives each year, which means that a child dies of malnutrition every 11 seconds, and is a key factor in around 45% of deaths of children under 5. .

The Global Law on the Prevention and Treatment of Malnutrition enjoys bipartisan support. It would probably pass in both chambers, but just needs to be on the top of the agenda to get it done. Congress is moving slowly, but it must pick up the pace when so many lives and global stability are at stake.

“By coming together and demonstrating a strong US commitment through this legislation, we will save lives and help millions of children and families survive and thrive,” reads the organizations letter. charities in Congress.

You can help Congress move this legislation forward by writing to your representative this Christmas. Your actions speak volumes as well. By donating to charity, you can help feed the hungry and set an example for others.

We have already seen the public and the government working in tandem to fight hunger at critical times. Before Christmas in 1947, citizens collected food donations to save Europeans through the Friendship Train and the “silent guest” program.

These actions preceded the passage by Congress of a massive interim food aid bill a week before Christmas. These donations helped feed Europe and paved the way for the Marshall Plan to rebuild the continent and win peace after World War II.

Likewise, this holiday season, the public and government can take action against hunger abroad at the most critical time. If we do, we can give children around the world the most precious Christmas gift – a second chance at life by ending fatal malnutrition.

William Lambers is an author who partnered with the United Nations World Food Program on the book Ending World Hunger.

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