Honoree Spotlight

5 Years Later, Project Peanut Butter Going Strong

In 1998, UNICEF estimated that 12 million children around the world die annually, more than half being linked to malnutrition. Today, the number of child deaths linked to malnutrition has dropped to 3.5 million. Though still devastating, this number is considerably lower thanks to people like Dr. Mark Manary, one of our 2007 Award Winners.

In 1999, Dr. Manary visited Malawi for 10 weeks. There he saw firsthand the devastating effects of malnutrition that hundreds of thousands of Malawian children suffered. He decided to take action, beginning to develop a nutrient-rich food that didn’t spoil, didn’t need to be cooked and could be eaten in small amounts to make a noticeable difference. Thus, Project Peanut Butter was born.

“I made a commitment to see that this advance actually becomes available to every child who needs it,” Dr. Manary said.

For the next four years, Dr. Manary’s team tested different ady to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) formulas, eventually developing Chiponde, a high-calorie, fortified peanut butter-like paste. The success of Chiponde was dramatic: 95 percent of tested children recovered, compared to an average of 25-40 percent recovering from traditional methods. Adding to its success was Dr. Manary’s innovative idea to combine home therapy with RUTF administration. Home therapy led to remarkable recoveries, lessening the stress on families and allowing mothers to have more control over her child’s nutrition program.

By 2005, Dr. Manary’s idea had grown from a single clinic to 12 sites around Malawi. By 2007, Project Peanut Butter had served 20,000 Malawian children and saved the lives of over 10,000 critically ill children.

Though his successes were apparent, Dr. Manary and his team knew that surrounding African countries desperately needed the same help. Unfortunately, they did not have the funding to expand their program for children.

Then, in 2007, Dr. Manary received our World of Children Health Award for $50,000. As a result, Project Peanut Butter was featured in Time and on CBS, the Today Show and the Discovery Channel. Shortly thereafter, our grant to Dr. Manary was matched, allowing him to expand his program to Sierra Leone.

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