11 November 2013 | News | By Bureau Report
Corporant, Haiti, Partners in Health (PIH), Abbott and its foundation, the Abbott Fund, had announced the opening of a new nutrition production facility in the Central Plateau in Haiti. The centerpiece of a broader partnership between PIH, Abbott and the Abbott Fund to help drive economic development in the region, the facility will produce "Nourimanba," a life-saving treatment for severe malnutrition in children. The first shipments of Nourimanba produced at the new facility have been distributed to PIH's clinics in the region, and are already being used to provide effective treatment for children.
"After several years of close collaboration, we are excited to achieve this significant milestone in our partnership with Abbott and the Abbott Fund. Producing Nourimanba at the new facility will help PIH and Zanmi Lasante to continue providing free, high-quality treatment for children at our clinics across the region," said Ophelia Dahl, PIH co-founder and executive director, Abbott. "The impact of this partnership goes well beyond a building. As an employer and a customer for local farmers, this facility aims to spark a cluster of economic activity that is desperately needed in the region."
The 18,000 square-foot Nourimanba Production Facility (Sant Prodiksyon Nourimanba in Haitian Creole) was built primarily by Haitian workers, with technical support from more than 50 Abbott engineers, scientists and other experts. Designed to meet international standards for food products, the facility includes modern laboratories and testing technology, with extensive quality and safety procedures. At the same time, the facility was built to be appropriate for Haiti, with rugged equipment that requires little maintenance.
The facility is operated and managed by Haitians, led by PIH's sister organization, Zanmi Lasante (Partners In Health in Haitian Creole). Abbott and PIH experts provided extensive training for the local team to upgrade manufacturing, production and maintenance skills, and share best practices in quality and food safety. Abbott and PIH also will continue to offer ongoing mentoring and support to ensure long-term sustainable operations.
A Life-Saving Product, Sourced From a Community of Farmers
Even prior to the earthquake in January 2010, one in three Haitian children under the age of five suffered from malnutrition. Nourimanba, a ready-to-use therapeutic food product designed to treat severe childhood malnutrition, is a high-calorie, high-protein, fortified paste that is comprised of only five ingredients: peanuts, milk powder, canola oil, sugar and vitamins. Ready to eat by the patient, Nourimanba does not require mixing with water or refrigeration, and can be given to children at home rather than in a hospital, avoiding the cost and complexity of in-patient treatment. Nourimanba produced at the new facility is provided free to any patient in need through a network of clinics supported by PIH/ZL in the Central Plateau and the Artibonite Valley.
The main ingredient in Nourimanba is locally sourced peanuts grown by Haitian farmers. Through the partnership, a pilot program is providing support for approximately 300 farmers to improve the quality and quantity of the peanut supply needed for the facility, while increasing farmer incomes and the overall competitiveness of the local peanut agricultural sector.
Looking ahead, the partnership is exploring a variety of ways to utilize excess production capacity to produce a fortified peanut butter. Revenue from peanut butter sales would be reinvested in the facility to cover the costs of Nourimanba production, with the goal of creating a social enterprise that will help sustain facility operations over the long term.
Unique Partnership Combines Complementary Expertise, Resources
Partners In Health, Abbott and the Abbott Fund have worked together on the Nourimanba partnership in Haiti since 2009, combining PIH's health care leadership, the skills and knowledge of Zanmi Lasante, more than 10,000 hours of technical support provided by expert Abbott employees, and $6.5 million in funding support from Abbott and the Abbott Fund.
"When Abbott started working with Partners In Health a few years ago, we were both looking for ways to do things differently, so we can have a greater impact in helping to bring about transformational change in Haiti," said Katherine Pickus, divisional vice president, Global Citizenship and Policy, Abbott, and vice president, the Abbott Fund. "By combining the unique expertise and resources of a non-profit organization and a leading nutrition and healthcare business, and by listening and working closely together every step of the way, we have been able to open a new facility that both produces a life-saving treatment for children and provides economic opportunity for local communities."
The new facility in Haiti builds on prior accomplishments of the ongoing partnership between PIH, Abbott and the Abbott Fund to expand access to health care in developing countries, including establishing a women's health clinic in Lascahobas, Haiti, and building a rural hospital in Malawi. The partnership also is part of Abbott's broader philanthropic work to help address critical health needs in Haiti.