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Severe Acute Malnutrition

It's time to meet S.A.M.

S.A.M. Ever heard of it?

It’s silent. Deadly. A child killer.

This is how it takes hold.

First the layer of fat and tissue under the skin breaks down. Muscles start to shrink and waste away.

You lose your appetite. Your vision starts to blur. Your hair becomes brittle and thin. Exhaustion creeps over you, leaving you slow and clumsy.

Finally, without nourishment, your vital organs swell and start to fail.

This illness targets kids under five.

You might not have seen it on the news. Or your social feed. And it’s probably not come up in conversation lately.  

But right now, it threatens the lives of 1.7 million children in East Africa.

Because S.A.M stands for severe acute malnutrition. And it’s spreading across East Africa, devastating young lives. 

But there is hope. Because we don’t need to spend billions on researching a cure or developing a vaccine. For many children, the cure for S.A.M is devastatingly simple: special milk formula and high-nutrient peanut paste.

Is it really just milk and peanuts?

Well. A special kind of milk and a special sort of peanuts!

The milk formula,  rich in carbohydrates, builds up energy levels, so children’s start to return and their bodies recover.  Our peanut paste is pretty miraculous too. Each sachet is a whopping 500 calories and is packed with protein, minerals and vitamins. Plus it’s ready to eat – no need to keep it in the fridge or cook.

Within hours, a child struggling against S.A.M can start to become themselves again. Their energy starts to return. Then strength begins to return to wasted muscles. Eyesight recovers. Inner organs – kidney, liver, spleen – start to work properly again. 

This means smiles coming back onto faces.  Walking turns to running, playing and grazed knees. Jokes are shared. Questions asked. New futures imagined.  

A staff member at the Dusuman health clinic Outpatient Therapeutic Unit near Maiduguri displays a packet of protein rich peanut food supplement.

What can you do?

We’re on it.

With specialist equipment and care we’re working with communities to identify and treat children with S.A.M.

In hospitals and treatment centres, we’re giving life-saving care to children with S.A.M. In the backpacks of community health volunteers and in families’ homes, we’re getting high-nutrient peanut paste to dangerously malnourished children.

But we urgently need to reach more children with S.A.M.  And stop children wasting away. Your support makes that possible.

Please donate to the East Africa Crisis today

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Read about the power of peanuts

Learn about one boy's road to recovery

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