SAM – Severe Acute Malnutrition
What is SAM?
We describe of SAM (Severe Acute Malnutrition), as the most extreme form of hunger that leads to millions of preventable deaths among children every year. Children suffering from SAM have an upper arm circumference less than 4.33 inches.
The World Health Organization classifies a child to be suffering from SAM if they have a very low weight for height, have visible severe wasting, or have swollen feet resulting from tissue retention of water. When children aged 6 to 59 months become severely hungry, and classified to be suffering from SAM, they are nine times as likely to die as a healthy child.
We know peanut butter won’t solve world hunger, but we know that three packets of RUTF a day for six weeks is saving a child today.
Where is SAM?
Millions of children suffering from SAM live in Sub-Saharan Africa or Southeast Asia. Man-made and/or natural disasters leave many children vulnerable to SAM around the world every year.
Starvation and SAM occur for a variety of complex reasons. Drought and famine are two of the more straightforward causes, but internal politics often aggravate the effects of natural calamities and lead to more widespread starvation within affected areas.
The statistics may seem grim—and they are, but the good news is that SAM is treatable and preventable. In 2007, RUTF was endorsed as the standard of treatment worldwide for severe acute malnutrition by UNICEF, WHO, WFP, and the UN System Standing Committee on Nutrition.