Treating Malnutrition through Haitian Production of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods

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Treating Malnutrition through Haitian Production of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods

Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
$250,000 - $500,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Meds & Food for Kids (MFK) saves the lives of Haiti’s malnourished children by developing, manufacturing, and distributing therapeutic foods in Haiti. Our national production model combines effective interventions for both the treatment and prevention of malnutrition, via locally manufactured RUTFs and sustainable agricultural development programs.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Nearly one quarter of Haitian children suffer from malnutrition (UNICEF); of these, over 120,000 have moderate or severe acute malnutrition (wasting). With weakened immune systems, these children are over 9 times as likely to die as their more healthy peers; and even if they survive, they will have lasting physical and cognitive damage from this developmental disease. Malnutrition is not just a public health issue, but stems from unemployment and inefficient and insufficient agricultural production. Nearly 80% of Haitians have no job, and farmers only produce enough food to feed 55% of the population. Moreover, agricultural production in Haiti is inefficient and low quality; specifically, peanuts are susceptible to aflatoxin contamination, which is a carcinogen and an immunosuppressant. Traditional responses to these problems are merely rescue, Haiti needs long term sustainable indigenous solutions.
About You
Meds and Food for Kids
Section 1: About You
First Name


Last Name



Meds and Food for Kids

Section 2: About Your Organization
Organization Name

Meds and Food for Kids

Organization Phone


Organization Address

4488 Forest Park, suite 230, St Louis, MO, 63108

Organization Country
Your idea
Country your work focuses on
Website URL
What makes your idea unique?

When UNICEF and the WHO endorsed RUTF in 2007, they effectively closed debate on malnutrition treatments, but opened another on how and from where products like RUTF should be sourced. RUTF should be more than just rescue. MFK believes that producing RUTF in the country in which it is consumed can be a catalyst for economic and agricultural development. It bridges artificially constructed divides between nutrition and agriculture, business and social work, research and practice, humanitarian aid and development.
MFK is thus establishing a new paradigm for development: we combat malnutrition while also addressing some of its underlying causes. Unemployment and inefficient farming systems are two of the leading factors contributing to high malnutrition rates.
Growing food and adding value to it is a common-sense approach that meets Haitians where they are. It is an appropriate model for developing nations but it is not often part of the development dialogue. MFK is unique and worthy of international recognition for spearheading the effort to change this situation, through its business model combining for- and not-for profit paradigms, and accent on both treatment and systemic change.
No patent is necessary for RUTF production in Haiti.

Do you have a patent for this idea?

What impact have you had?

Number of Lives Saved - Since 2003, MFK and its partners have offered Medika Mamba to more than 12,000 malnourished children. With a new factory, over five years MFK will treat at least 50,000 children with 600,000 kilograms of its nationally produced RUTF.
Influencing Public Policy - Thanks in large part to MFK's advocacy, Haiti’s Ministry of Health has re-drafted its protocols for the treatment of child malnutrition to incorporate both MFK’s therapeutic procedures and RUTF.
Reinforcing Local Health Care Capacity - MFK's staff have trained over 100 doctors, nurses and community health agents in RUTF treatment.
Setting National Standards for Food Safety - MFK's factory is the only facility in Haiti to comply with international food safety standards, and hopes to participate in a national dialogue towards adopting such standards.
Establishing Best Practice Agriculture - MFK has worked with over 400 farmers, increasing yields, and is leading the effort to abate aflatoxin - a poison - in the food chain.
Exporting Development Model - We provide technical assistance to other emerging national producers in the developing world.


We make the most effective - in terms of both health outcomes and cost - treatment for childhood malnutrition. Instead of importing these products, we make them in Haiti, using Haitian labor, and, when possible, with Haitian agricultural raw materials.
We partner with public health services and other NGOs in order to introduce, mentor and sustain this best practice treatment throughout the country.
We partner with agricultural specialists to ensure that food supplies are toxin free, high quality and plentiful.
We mentor Haitian employees - mechanics, electricians, lab workers etc. - providing skill transfers towards a sustainable Haitian enterprise.


MFK is already partly responsible for a paradigm shift in treating childhood malnutrition in Haiti, where new, evidenced-based best practice community-based care models have superseded higher cost and less successful inpatient feeding center programs. MFK's continued growth, increased capacity and stronger national presence will enable treatment of over 50,000 Haitian children over the next five years.

What will it take for your project to be successful over the next three years? Please address each year separately, if possible.

2009 - continue manufacturing at current maximum capacity, enabling treatment of over 6,000 Haitian children.
2009 - gain international food safety accreditation in current facility, to expand potential clients and markets.
2010 - complete a capital campaign for $1.5 million, and break ground on a new dedicated manufacturing facility.
2011 - start production in new facility, quadrupling production capacity, enabling more efficient production and hence more cost effective treatment
2011/12 - partner with public and private organizations to develop new products to prevent as well as treat malnutrition

What would prevent your project from being a success?

Lack of international funding and interest in RUTF treatment for childhood malnutrition.
World food price increases rendering production conditions untenable.
Civil unrest in Haiti disrupting supply chains.

How many people will your project serve annually?


What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?

Less than $50

Does your project seek to have an impact on public policy?


What stage is your project in?

Operating for more than 5 years

In what country?
Is your initiative connected to an established organization?


If yes, provide organization name.

Meds & Food for Kids

How long has this organization been operating?

More than 5 years

Does your organization have a Board of Directors or an Advisory Board?


Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with NGOs?


Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with businesses?


Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with government?


Please tell us more about how these partnerships are critical to the success of your innovation.

Our primary partnership, with the Haitian Ministry of Health and Population, has enabled RUTF and community based care of childhood malnutrition to become an integral part of national health policy. A clear and explicit preference has been stated for Haitian produced RUTF in treatment programs, of which MFK is the only manufacturer.
Our non-monetary partnerships with dozens of NGOs in Haiti consist mainly in knowledge transfers for programme treatment protocols, whereby best practices are spread and disseminated throughout the country, increasing the chances of success for Haitian children and for implementing health care workers.
Our numerous non-monetary partnerships with businesses in both the US and Haiti provide us important inputs of raw materials, expertise consulting, and laboratory support, to name but a few.
MFK is also looking to provide food safety consulting services to Haitian food manufacturers, pending interest and engagement from the private sector.

What are the three most important actions needed to grow your initiative or organization?

Increased staff capacity to respond to drivers of growth and new opportunities.
Increased partnerships with agricultural extensions, to transfer responsibility for agricultural development programs to implementing partners.
Capital for construction of new dedicated manufacturing facility.

The Story
What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?

Dr. Wolff had seen malnourished children needlessly die during her 15 years as a medical volunteer in Haiti, and in 2003 founded MFK after witnessing RUTF-pioneer and Washington University colleague Dr. Mark Manary use RUTF to effectively combat malnutrition in Malawi. With the support of both Dr. Manary and Nutriset, she transferred the RUTF technology to Haiti, thereby laying the foundation for the treatment of tens of thousands of malnourished Haitian children.

Tell us about the social innovator behind this idea.

Executive Director, Dr. Patricia Wolff, is Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine and President of Forest Park Pediatrics in St. Louis, Missouri. She has been listed in the U.S. News & World Report of Best Doctors every year since 2002. She founded MFK in 2003, and divides her time equally between St. Louis and Haiti.

How did you first hear about Changemakers?

Through another organization or company

If through another, please provide the name of the organization or company

World Bank Development Marketplace

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