It seemed odd to be going to Haiti to report on something that was not directly related to the earthquake. Even more so to be skipping Port-au-Prince, which was devastated on that horrendous day in January 2010.
But Haiti has had many problems for many years. We were there to report on something that has been silently killing and crippling the country’s children for decades: malnutrition.
But one of our goals at Global Health Frontline News is to focus not just on problems, but also solutions.
In this case it came in the form of a small non-profit with roots in St. Louis and an increasingly firm footing in Haiti. The organization is called Meds & Food for Kids.
Its primary mission is to manufacture ready-to-use therapeutic food for malnourished children. It comes in a peanut butter-based paste that babies and toddlers can ingest, packing a nutritional boost that over a period of weeks can get them back on track.
We knew, going in, the details of the program. We weren’t expecting the severity of the problem.
We came across many toddlers who were emaciated, weighing a fraction of the norm. Others were suffering from stunted growth. If they weren’t treated quickly their cognitive ability would likely also be impaired for life.
While emergency help was at hand for some, the real question was how this could be so prevalent?
We were in Haiti as stories from the famine in East Africa were capturing headlines and sending news anchors to the camps where people were starving. Yet we were just off the shores of the United States.
While there are no easy answers to malnutrition, and the causes vary from political instability, conflict, drought and poverty, one thing is clear: this is a blight that is ruining the lives of many people, particularly children, across the world every day.
David Lindsay is the Managing Editor of Global Health Frontline News. He and videographer Roger Herr traveled to Haiti to report on efforts to address malnutrition and economic instability. Go to www.ghfn.org for more on this and other stories.