The day-to-day purpose of the project here is to heal kids like George of their severe acute malnutrition, so that they avoid stunting or, worse, death, and you could no more quantify this benefit than you could put a price on a human life. But MSF is here with an additional, even more ambitious goal: if we can help kids like George with a model of community based nutritional care tailor-made specifically for the Bihar State, India setting, then we might just be able to convince the government to adopt this model of care, scale it up and then help every sick kid like George.
But can you ‘treat’ malnutrition? Maybe there is something strange about putting illnesses which are directly caused by very specific parasites in the same bracket as one with “geosociopolitical” causes. The facts are plain though. Whether you choose to label it as a disease or not (and MSF does), you can do something about it, and that is what really matters.
Young or old, no one should have to face this uphill struggle, due to a simple lack of nutrition.
Luke writes with tenderness about the tragic case of Reena, a malnourished four-year-old girl, who despite best efforts, fails to survive.
Luke is a pediatrician working in Biraul, India.