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Mark Manary to Address Food Aid in Africa

BY: Kelly Hensel
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IFT has announced that Mark J. Manary, M.D., Helene B. Roberson Professor of Pediatrics, and Director, Global Harvest Alliance, will be the second Beacon Lecturer at this summer’s 2013 IFT Annual Meeting and Food Expo. Manary will be speaking in conjunction with the IFTSA Closing Ceremony on July 15, 2013, from 7:00 to 7:30 p.m. on the topic of “The Future of Food Aid: From the Miracle of RUTF in Malawi to Appropriately Designed Food Aid in the 21st Century.”

Food aid has classically been surplus commodities donated to circumstances in which food shortages exist. In the past, donors of food aid have given little consideration to the appropriateness of nutritional content, food safety, and stability of foodstuffs. The advent of ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) for severe childhood malnutrition 12 years ago demonstrated the clinical benefits that can be accrued when nutrition, safety, and stability are key criteria for appropriate food aid. RUTF has an extremely low water activity, preventing the replication of microbes therein. With the addition of proper emulsifiers, oil separation and subsequent oxidation of fat-soluble nutrients have been reduced in RUTF. Cooking of the RUTF ingredients prior to their mixing has allowed RUTF to be consumed directly from the package, offering children the chance to space their dietary intake out over the course of many hours, thereby consuming more food and recovering more quickly. RUTF has made home-based therapy possible, allowing children to receive treatment earlier in the course of their malnutrition. Dramatic increases in recovery rates, from 45% to 85%, have been routinely seen, as well as huge reductions in the opportunity cost to participants. RUTF has allowed for increases in program coverage from 10% to 60%, allowing for 10 times as many children to receive this life-saving therapy. All of these lessons need to be applied to food aid that is used for moderate malnutrition, prevention of malnutrition, and food aid directed at other target groups, such as pregnant women and HIV-infected individuals. Application of basic principles of food science will move food aid into the modern age, the 21st century, where the recipient is given foremost consideration and benefit.

About Manary
Mark J. Manary, M.D., is the Helene B. Roberson Professor of Pediatrics at Wash. Univ. and Director of the Global Harvest Alliance, a joint venture between St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Wash. Univ., and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. He has made it his professional goal to fix malnutrition for kids in Africa. To this end, he has developed ready-to-use therapeutic food and used it in home-based therapy. Manary performed the first clinical trial with this food in 2001. He is currently formulating and evaluating new foods designed to augment the therapy of HIV in Africa, and treat moderate childhood malnutrition. Manary also recognizes the importance of work to prevent childhood malnutrition, and to that end he is exploring the use of lipid nutrient supplements as complementary foods for children aged 6 to 24 months in Malawi. Because he believes the ultimate solution for malnutrition is improved agriculture, he is an investigator on BioCassava Plus, a Gates Foundation project to develop genetically improved cassava that is enriched with iron, protein, beta-carotene, and zinc. Manary runs a plant genetics lab at the Danforth Plant Science Center, where he investigates nutrient-enhanced peanuts. He continues to explore the basic pathophysiology and metabolism of malnutrition, and he is currently looking at the gut microbiota and metabolome in kwashiorkor and marasmus, as well as zinc homeostasis. Manary loves engaging students in his work, and says they can be inspired to embrace global health issues and bring fresh perspectives to long-standing problems.

About the Beacon Lecturers
The lectures made their debut in 2011 as a vehicle for adding new perspectives to the Annual Meeting with presentations by high-profile individuals capable of imparting cutting-edge, game-changing perspectives on food science and technology. The format for the lectures is a 30-minute presentation followed by a 15-minute question-and-answer session.

One Response to “Mark Manary to Address Food Aid in Africa”

  1. Thomas C Kelly says:

    Mark,
    Working through the ICDDRB, and have an active program for W Africa for ORS, like to meet with you to discuss clinical with Johns Hopkins University.
    ORT is fully applicable to treating diarrhea in HIV/AIDS.