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CBS News: A Life Saver Called "Plumpynut"

Author: Anderson Cooper
October 21, 2007

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Summary:

Plumpynut is a nutrient-rich paste developed by Doctors Without Borders. It is easy to distribute, requires no refridgeration, and has achieved miraculous results in treating malnourished children in the most dire of places.

Excerpt:

If Plumpynut is the answer, how come kids are still dying?

"The answer is getting to kids earlier," Shepherd says. "Once children are as sick as she is, Plumpynut is not gonna save her."

Rashida was buried in a nearby cemetery. The grave digger, Salifu Ibrahim, told 60 Minutes he used to dig graves for about seven children a day, but now, on most days, he digs only one.

Asked why he thinks fewer children are dying, Ibrahim says, "It is God’s will."

God's will and Plumpynut.

Two years ago this region had the highest malnutrition rate in Niger. But now, after widespread use of the Plumpynut, it has the lowest. Dr. Shepherd told Cooper they’ll be able to treat more than 120,000 kids this year, up from just 10,000 children three years ago.

What about peanut allergies?

"We just don't see it," Shepherd says. "In developing countries food allergy is not nearly the problem that it is in industrialized countries.

It's hard to imagine a less industrialized country than Niger. On a list of 177 developing countries, the United Nations ranked Niger dead last -- least developed. More than 70 percent of the people don’t know how to read. Most work in the fields and earn less than a dollar a day. Nomadic goat herders still roam this land -- their children and their kids travel by camel. Goats seem to be the main garbage disposal, but clearly the goats are falling behind. You can still spot a skinny guard dog, but we were told all the cats have been cooked.

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