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By UNICEF Australia
4 June 2019

When babies or young children are extremely malnourished, they cannot tolerate normal food.

That’s when this magical milk comes in.  


Therapeutic milk is made up of energy, fats, protein and minerals that are needed by children who suffer from severe malnutrition. It is the first phase of a feeding regime that helps the body recover from the shock of malnutrition and conditions it to digest food.

This milk has transformed the treatment of severe acute malnutrition - a major cause of death in children under the age of five, globally.

Tiny Doa’a was suffering from severe acute malnutrition when she arrived at a UNICEF-funded nutrition center in Yemen with her mother, Zahra.

Zahra, 32, was also in a critical condition - severely malnourished and therefore unable to breastfeed.

The centre not only provides medical services for malnourished children and their mothers, but it also provides information about nutrition and how to prepare meals to avoid malnutrition or relapse.

About 50 to 60 cases of people suffering from severe malnutrition are admitted to the center each month.

"When Doa'a arrived at the center, she received treatment and baby formula until she began to improve."

Dr. Dhia Al-Haq Al-Omari
A health worker is assessing a baby for malnutrition.
Doa'a is measured with the MUAC band to determine how malnourished she is.
© UNICEF/UN0276402/AlGhabri

Thanks to the treatment and therapeutic milk, Doa’a improved after just six weeks. An incredible 92 per cent of children who are malnourished improve once they receive treatment.  

"I was doubtful that Doa'a would return home. Health workers at the center gave her the necessary medicine and baby formula and now she is all right."

A baby is fed with a syringe that has milk in it.
Doa'a is fed therapeutic milk which is enriched with much needed vegetable fats, vitamins and minerals.
© UNICEF/UN0276436/AlGhabri

The situation for Doa'a and her family is not uncommon in Yemen. Conflict has caused the country’s health system to crumble, leaving children vulnerable to food insecurity and disease.

Without the critical support of therapeutic milk, the brutal reality is that more lives would have ended before they really began.

A man and a woman with a burqa looking at the camera. The woman has a baby on her lap and she looks happy.
With the help of UNICEF, Doa'a was fed therapeutic milk and food to help bring her back to health.
© UNICEF/UN0279211/AlGhabri