Therapeutic foods are not ordinary food!

This article reports on how PlumpyNut®, also called Plamply, and therapeutic milk is used incorrectly by people in the city of Bukavu in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  Plamply is a medicinal foodstuff made from a peanut-based paste that has been fortified with additional calories, proteins, vitamins and mineral salts.  It is only designed for use by patients of all ages suffering from malnutrition. Plampy is used to treat malnourished patients, helping them return to full health.

However, large quantities of Plampy can be found in markets, shops, and even in some schools. It should only be available in hospitals and health centres. Consuming this product when not suffering from malnutrition can cause other conditions later in life, for example diabetes, gout, hypertension, obesity or kidney failure. Incorrect use of this product by healthy people deprives malnourished children, the only intended recipients, and puts them at risk of death.

Plampy and therapeutic milk were designed for medical use by patients suffering from acute malnutrition. They are not supposed to be used by people who are healthy. Too many people use Plampy as a basic food for their babies. “Everyone in my house eats Plampy,” a mother of five told me. “My children eat it for breakfast every morning before they go to school.”

To raise awareness about this incorrect use of these products Young Reporters went to visit several homes in different parts of the city. When I met a mother who gave her children Plampy for breakfast, I explained how she was putting her children at risk.

My appeal to ensure that therapeutic foods are no longer a risk

I call upon the relevant city authorities to take action to end the sale, purchase and incorrect use of these products by healthy people. The distribution network for this product must be monitored from the initial point of distribution right through to the point of destination: only people suffering from malnutrition should receive Plampy.

Sales must be banned. I call upon the President of the Provincial Assembly to issue a provincial decree banning the sale and purchase of Plampy and other therapeutic foods. Awareness raising amongst the population is also required to end this practice.

Therapeutic foods and milk are not for daily consumption, they are medicines. They must not be sold or purchased without a visit to the doctor.

More information on nutrition and the use of therapeutic foods in DRC:

Kindly translated from French by Johanna MCCALMONT

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Pascaline est Enfant Reporter de la ville de Bukavu. Âgée de 16 ans, elle est convaincue que la santé n’a pas de prix et que sans cela, les enfants ne peuvent pas préparer leur avenir.

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