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Newsletter Issue 10: 27th May 2014
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"By aligning a revenue model with social impact VALID can provide a viable and sustainable solution to malnutrition."
    

Welcome from Steve Collins


Our latest Newsletter aims to provide our supporters with an update on recent progress and developments.

I have always felt that what Valid Nutrition and I have to offer is to help initiate the changes needed to make this the generation that finally addresses malnutrition once and for all at a global level. Everything I have been doing with the team in the last few years is with this objective in mind. At this very moment there are about 200 million young children whose future lives and prospects are being permanently damaged because they lack the basic nutrients they need to develop their brains and bodies. After the age of 2 years, if a child hasn't received enough of the right nutrients, they are irreversibly damaged and will never attain their full potential – they have a life sentence of chronic malnutrition.

At the moment, preventing this disgrace is largely the preserve of charity and philanthropy; separated from the "real" world of business and commerce. This in my opinion is a massive and fundamental mistake: despite the best and noble efforts of so many, our charitable responses to prevent malnutrition have failed - over the past 20 years; there has been no meaningful reduction in the numbers of chronically malnourished children across Africa and many parts of Asia. 

Helping the poorest and most disadvantaged in the world avoid malnutrition is just too important to marginalise and consign to the world of charity and philanthropy. The aid and development actors alone do not have the resources to address this scale of problem. Equally, they aren’t in a position to capitalize on and nurture the opportunity that the solution affords.

However, on the other hand, the unfortunate reality is that, with some notable exceptions, most multinational corporations do not invest any meaningful percentage of their profits into making effective nutritional products, made out of locally grown ingredients, available to poor people in developing countries.

It doesn't have to be this way. Business can and ultimately must, engage and invest to end this global shame – not as part of some peripheral Corporate Social Responsibility programme, but as part of mainstream business, aligning these super ethical objectives to core revenue generation. 

Fundamental to our vision is that malnourished people should be regarded as legitimate customers; and not as passive victims, and that nutritional products (and their delivery) should be tailored to their needs - rather than to the needs of the agencies supplying them.
The economics are clear - The World Bank and World Health Organisation identify malnutrition not only as the greatest cause of unnecessary child death and illness but vitally, also as the single most important cause of poverty and economic underdevelopment in the world today – chronic malnutrition alone depressing the GDP of many developing countries by > 3%. This is a staggering and completely needless and avoidable waste of lives and resources. 

The missing nutrients that are necessary to prevent chronic malnutrition cost only a matter of a few cents a day to deliver and can radically improve educational attainment and increase lifelong earning power, even if only taken by the mother during pregnancy and lactation and by the infant as dietary complements between the ages of 6–24 months. Providing this nutrition boosts economies and creates wealth, ultimately increasing markets for any companies brave enough to take the plunge and engage.
  
We also know that the vast majority of poor people buy food. To date however, mainstream business has failed to engage and produce efficacious nutritional products at a price point that many of the poor can afford. This has meant that most people in the developing world do not have the choice to buy such products. Nor do they have the benefits of brand recognition, something that we all take for granted, and something that would allow poor people to make informed choices over what they buy. Without this choice they continue to spend large proportions of their disposable incomes buying foods that fill their stomachs, but at best, don't allow their children's brains and bodies to develop properly, or worse still, actively damage their health. 

Of course there are those too poor to buy the efficacious food that their children need and these people require free or subsidised essential nutrition. But many, many millions of poor people could and would buy these products given a chance. Our previous work in changing behaviours around the treatment of starvation has shown that when poor people are provided with the means to understand what is good for them, and given access to what they need, they will change their behaviours - and opt to give their children the essential nutrition required. 

This represents a huge opportunity to dramatically improve the lives of the most disadvantaged in the world, whilst at the same time to develop truly ethical businesses that generate profits, employment and economic growth. We now need courageous individuals and companies to take the first steps to develop and market, to low income consumers, products designed to prevent malnutrition; products that are made out of locally grown ingredients in local factories. That's what Valid Nutrition is striving to achieve, and in so doing, demonstrate to mainstream corporations that economically profitable nutrition businesses that improve the lives of poor people are possible. 

I believe that we have proven expertise at getting results (as demonstrated by Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition - CMAM) and a tangible determination to push through disruptive and genuinely impactful change in the way malnutrition is addressed – but we need access to funding to allow us to realise our future plans. We would welcome the prospect of talking with those of you who are interested in learning more about why we believe we can be that catalyst for positive change and hopefully some of you might be persuaded to become involved.

If you are an individual or organisation with the vision and capacity to support us as we scale up our ethical business to become self-financing, please get in contact. We would like to meet you to share our vision and present our detailed plans and projections so that you will see that we are serious, innovative and capable of delivering on our ambitions!  We can tailor arrangements to your preferred way of funding - either as an investor, a grantor or a donor.  Please contact myself, or any of the team directly to arrange a meeting.

Dr Steve Collins – Chairman & Founder

Country Updates 


MALAWI

Having successfully concluded discussions that have led to a formal strategic partnership arrangement whereby Exagris Africa (EAA) has invested in VN Malawi, we are now beginning to experience first-hand the very positive impact this arrangement is having on factory output.
This, coupled with a Grant received from DfID Malawi, has enabled us to engage in bulk purchasing of vital ingredients to finally scale up production to meet demand.  From the period June to December 2013, our output increased by more than 75% compared with the previous six months, resulting in our producing enough RUTF to treat approximately 17,000 children. This marked improvement in product output performance, clearly demonstrates that when properly financed, VALID’s local factory has the skills and capacity to achieve the necessary momentum to overcome the cash constraints that have previously been stifling productivity.
 

KENYA 

Efforts are continuing with regard to our plans to manufacture Valid Nutrition RUTF in Kenya.  [We were previously present in 2010 and 2011 in collaboration with a different local manufacturer.]
 

ETHIOPIA 

In August, we reluctantly had to terminate our relationship with VALSEK for the planned manufacture of RUTF locally, and are now engaged in identifying a suitable local collaboration in this important region.


INDIA  

We are delighted to confirm that Valid’s programmatic work for a planned Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) trial was approved by DfID for a CMAM Pilot in Odisha. Although smaller scale than originally hoped, we are confident that this pilot will deliver the data that is needed to get CMAM accepted in the country. In so doing it has the potential to open up effective treatment for the almost 8 million children currently afflicted by Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) across India – almost ½ of all the cases seen globally.
 

NIGERIA

We have identified a potential manufacturing partner locally and have been developing a Business Case with them. A Memorandum of Understanding is in place with our proposed partner and a timeline for negotiations and completion has been agreed. UNICEF Nigeria is actively seeking a local producer for this very important country.

Research and Development 

Soya Maize Sorghum (SMS) Ready-to-Use Food (RUTF):


The fieldwork in relation to this exciting new generation RUTF efficacy trial in the DRC (funded by Irish Aid and the PRANA Foundation) has been completed and data is currently being analysed. 

Initial analysis indicates that in the younger group (under two years), while the mortality rates were similar for the two recipes, the recovery rate was slower in the Soya Maize Sorghum RUTF, such that we conclude the formulation inferior to the standard milk-peanut based RUTF, for this group. Although the mechanisms are unclear, we attribute this outcome primarily to the absence of milk in the Soya Maize Sorghum formulation. For this group, we believe that further innovation in formula is needed.
 
However, the results for all SAM children over 24 months of age, approximately half of all cases of SAM which is equivalent to more than 10 million people worldwide, are that the new soya maize sorghum recipe has an efficacy equivalent to the established milk-peanut based RUTF formula. Recovery rates and speed of recovery are almost identical, and the mortality rate is consistently as low in the Soya Maize Sorghum RUTF as in the milk-peanut recipe. This is the first time a non-milk recipe has clearly been shown to achieve a clinical efficacy equivalent to milk-based RUTF formulas.   

Making therapeutic foods out of local grains and pulses has long been a goal of international research and development efforts into Ready to Use Foods. Non-milk formulations reduce cost, reduce dependency on imported milk, make better use of locally grown ingredients and decrease the risks of fungal (aflatoxin) contamination. This successful study, therefore, represents a very important breakthrough. 

The cost of the new Soya Maize Sorghum RUTF will be considerably lower than the current milk peanut recipe. We estimate that the cost reduction will result in a global saving of several million dollars, and thereby enable treatment of hundreds of thousands of additional cases for the same budget. As the cost of RUTF is a major factor limiting the expansion of CMAM across the globe, we believe that this research marks the start of an exciting and very significant change in the way that these products are made. We plan to publish the full results very soon.

Smallholder Farmers project 


The fieldwork for our Small-holder Farmer Research Programme (funded by Irish Aid Malawi and operated by University College Cork, and the Centre for Agricultural Research and Development at Bunda College) took place from 2010 to 2013, and the four-year results are currently being analysed.
The underlying purpose of the research has been to develop evidence that small farmers can produce high quality groundnuts in an economically viable system, thus improving their livelihoods and food security; and that VALID can use these nuts to produce Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) to international standards, locally in Malawi.
 
The full academic results will be ready for dissemination in August/September 2014 and we intend to hold a dissemination event in Lilongwe. The purpose will be to publish the results and make policy recommendations. We are hopeful the evidence will influence policy on the sourcing of RUTF in favour of developing countries. The policy issues raised are very relevant not only to Valid in Malawi, but also to the Malawian export trade in groundnuts, and hence to foreign exchange earnings and the substitution of tobacco as a cash crop.

Medecine Mondiale


Sir Ray Avery and his renowned New Zealand based charity Medecine Mondiale, have recently announced a research collaboration with VALID Nutrition on a project that aims to convert meat waste into complex amino acids to be used in the treatment of children with malnutrition. For more information click here.
Read more

Communication and events 

PR & Marketing  


VALID’s recent win in the ASHOKA Nutrients for All international competition was very encouraging, especially as our entry was based on our strategy to open up the market for affordable products to prevent Chronic Malnutrition – and consequently fully aligned with our investment proposal.  Our win was featured on Forbes.com

In 2013, we had an important Opinion Article published on the website of the UK’s The Guardian Newspaper

Our Valid Nutrition Website has also recently been upgraded by Create Brand Consultants (create.ie): www.validnutrition.org and we are active on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.


Valid International 


We are closely involved in the development of a new range of mapping, impact assessment and market research tools being undertaken by Valid International. These innovative products and services provide a level of geographical precision that has to date been absent on the standard public health mapping and surveying techniques deployed around the world.

Valid’s new tools have an unprecedented ability to map vast areas (millions of Km2) whilst at the same time, delivering extremely high levels of geographical resolution. We are confident that their use will revolutionise our ability to plan, monitor and evaluate provision of public health related products and services. Government and agencies such as UNICEF and GAIN have already worked with Valid to deploy these techniques to implement nation-wide surveys of Sudan and Sierra Leone, and a State wide survey of Rajasthan. The results from these surveys are being used to improve and monitor the provision of public health.

Valid is now working to adapt these tools to enable unprecedented and cost effective analytics of Base of Pyramid consumer markets.  As such, they will be a critical enabler to our ambitions to unlock the market for suitable affordable products to prevent chronic malnutrition, and will be marketed by a new division, Valid Measures.

Fundraising  


We would like to extend huge thanks to our UK Trustees whose hard work and efficiency carried off a very successful Charity Auction Fundraising event held at Christie’s London in June 2013. Our sincere thanks are also extended to the Artists who donated their work to VALID’s cause, and of course, to Christie’s Auction House, who further boosted funds by donating their commission fee to the Charity.  


With our ambitious programme, funding for working capital and capacity building remains a priority need. As Steve says in his introduction, we have several exciting opportunities to extend our impact within our grasp - if we can secure further support. 

During the year we successfully completed an Acceptability Trial of our Chickpea and Sesame based Ready-to-use-Supplementary Food (RUSF) in Ethiopia. This was generously funded by the PepsiCo Foundation.  We are now seeking funding for an Efficacy Trial of the product.  If you can help, please contact us at office@validnutrition.org  

Efforts also continue to secure funding for trialling our other new innovative recipes for various target market segments.

  

ASHOKA  


Steve has been invited to participate in Ashoka’s prestigious Changemakers’ event to be held in Paris in June. The event is an exclusive summit for some of Europe’s most influential leaders to combine their skills and resources to shape Europe’s future, joining a global movement for social change led by Ashoka around the world. The event was last hosted in France in June 2011, with similar Ashoka events since then taking place all over the world, from Washington DC to Mumbai. These events have brought together thought leaders such as Bill Clinton, Desmond Tutu, Mary Robinson, David Bornstein, Michel Barnier, Bill Drayton, and hundreds of the world’s leading social innovators.

International Symposium on Understanding Moderate Malnutrition in Children for Effective Interventions:  


As part of Valid's work to expand our focus to the prevention of malnutrition, Valid Nutrition and Valid International have combined with the IAEA and Micronutrient Initiative to help organise a major international meeting on Moderate Acute Malnutrition. This will happen in Vienna from 26th-29th May. The event includes opening addresses by both David Nabarro, the UN Assistant Secretary General  in charge of the Scale Up Nutrition (SUN) movement and Steve Collins, Valid Nutrition's Chairman. There will also be presentations by Peter Akomo and Filippo Dibarri on Valid Nutriton's product development, and Dr. Paluku Bahwere from Valid International will speak on how CMAM programmes can relate to Moderate Acute Malnutrition.
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