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Haiti: Medika Mamba
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Haiti: Medika Mamba
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Is peanut butter the answer to childhood malnournishment? In Haiti, a locally made fortified food is helping to save babies' lives.

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Segment 1

VOICEOVER
Parents of severely malnourished children in Haiti have something to be happy about. A new malnourishment therapy, called Medika Mamba, is saving lives, and boosting the local economy at the same time. Currently, at least 120,000 children are severely malnourished in Haiti, about 6 percent of the child population. With the global food crisis, the situation is likely to get worse. But Nurse Marie Fleurise Gourgues says parents also play a critical role in determining the health and nutrition of their children.
MARIE FLEURISE GOURGUES
You get a lot of parents who don't know about malnutrition. They may feed their kids a lot of food, but it's not the right kind. It needs to have protein, calories, vitamins -- things to build the body and protect it from disease.
VOICEOVER
But this three-year-old orphan was lucky. Medika Mamba saved her life even after doctors gave her up for dead. Nicole Etienne is one of the caretakers at the Orphanage of Notre Dame. She says the fact that this baby is alive today is nothing short of a miracle.
NICOLE ETIENNE
The effect was so fast everyone at the orphanage was shocked. In one week, she went from death back to life. It's a miracle product.
VOICEOVER
Medika Mamba is produced by the US-based organization Meds & Food for Kids. They built a factory here to process local peanuts into peanut butter that is then fortified with protein, vitamins, and minerals. It costs about USD$6 a bag to produce, and can treat a child for a week. But project director Tom Stehl says using local peanuts presents some serious health problems.
THOMAS STEHL
This is a good peanut. And this is a peanut that has a higher risk of aflatoxin contamination.
VOICEOVER
Aflatoxins are caused by a fungus. If consumed in large quantities, they can cause liver cancer. Workers spend most of their time separating good peanuts from bad. It would be cheaper to use imported peanut butter from the United States, but the project is committed to promoting local agriculture. Random lab tests ensure that Medika Mamba is aflatoxin free. These tests are an important part of keeping the product safe for consumers. The organization is also working with local peanut farmers to improve the quality of their crops. They hope one day to eliminate aflatoxins from Haiti entirely.
TOM STEHL
I don't know if Medika Mamba is the answer, but this model that we're promoting, where we go and buy agricultural products from Haitians, and use Haitian products to produce Haitian products, is part of the answer to the food crisis here in Haiti.
VOICEOVER
It could also be an answer to malnutrition: nearly all malnourished kids treated with Medika Mamba recover. So for the price of just peanuts, these children are winning the battle against malnutrition.
VOICEOVER
From Cap Haitian, this is Amelia Shaw and Blagoje Grujic for the United Nations.