BOSTON - The Feinstein International Center (FIC) at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University will lead on-the-ground research aimed at breaking the centuries-old cycle of child undernutrition in Ethiopia by strengthening existing nutrition interventions. The FIC’s $7.3 million award is the largest in the center’s 15-year history.
FIC is a partner in a USAID program under the US Government’s Feed the Future and Global Health Initiatives called “Empowering New Generations to Improve Nutrition and Economic opportunities" (ENGINE). The Program is led by Save the Children and targets Ethiopian mothers with children under 5, supporting the Government of Ethiopia’s efforts to lower child mortality rates historically influenced by undernutrition. When children do not consume enough calories or nutrients to grow and gain weight, they are more susceptible to life-threatening diseases. FIC Senior Researcher Kate Sadler, Ph.D., will lead a team interfacing with families and Ethiopian policymakers, aid organizations and academics.
“For example, we are seeking to explore new approaches for early identification and treatment of moderate acute malnutrition among children, a group whose low weight to height ratio puts them at high risk for disease or death, but for which, there is no good evidence base for developing programming,” says Sadler, who is also an assistant professor at the Friedman School. “We’ll try to pinpoint the reasons for treatment delay. Perhaps mothers are not familiar with the warning signs of malnutrition or they burdened by other family responsibilities. If moderate acute malnutrition is caught in time, there are vaccinations, micronutrient-enriched foods, and teachable infant feeding practices that can reverse the decline of nutrition and health in this group.”
Sadler and her colleagues will partner with The Ethiopian Health and Nutrition Research Institute and faculty from Hawassa and Jimma Universities to complete the fieldwork.
“The commitment we have from the government and the academic community is the key to ENGINE’s success,” says Peter Walker, Ph.D., director of the FIC and the Irving H. Rosenberg Professor of Nutrition and Human Security at the Friedman School. “The people who know the most about a country are the people who live there. Working in tandem with Ethiopian stakeholders, we can better assist with shaping health and social support systems that can improve nutrition generally and also absorb the stresses of periodic drought. Once these strategies are established in Ethiopia, we are hopeful that they can be replicated in other regions of the Horn of Africa.”
The Tufts fieldwork will serve as the foundation for other components of ENGINE, chiefly, a national public health campaign that will be developed by other ENGINE project partners. Walker expects FIC researchers to begin their fieldwork in early 2012.
About Tufts University School of Nutrition
The Gerald J. and Dorothy R .Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University is the only independent school of nutrition in the United States. The school's eight degree programs, which focus on questions relating to famine, hunger, poverty, and communications, are renowned for the application of scientific research to national and international policy. For three decades, the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University has studied the relationship between good nutrition and good health in aging populations. Tufts research scientists work with federal agencies to establish the USDA Dietary Guidelines, the Dietary Reference Intakes, and other significant public policies.