In the poorest countries of the world, nearly one in five children will die in infancy due to malnutrition. It has been estimated that worldwide, about seven million people perish because of hunger-related issues, a vast majority of which are malnutrition. Programs have been sought after and funded by aid agencies for years. Everything from education to school lunch programs have been attempted, but as soon as funding dries up, the programs always dry up with them. What if Moringa, a "miracle tree of life," could be the answer to the problem of solving malnourishment issues?
The first reason why Moringa could be the solution is because it is found growing in abundance in West Africa, an area that is deeply affected by malnourishment. Unfortunately, the traditional method of cooking Moringa in these counties diminishes its natural nutritional value significantly. It is boiled two or three times, disposing of the water each time, in an effort to remove its bitter taste. However, perhaps with proper education, these people could learn that by adding undamaged Moringa to their diet regularly, they would be on their way to solving malnourishment issues. After all, one of the hundreds of benefits of this plant is to increase the nutritional value of breast milk. This change alone could make a huge difference in the early stages of children's lives.
In 1997, a project was put on by a Senegalese organization called Alternative Action for African Development, or AGADA. Nurses and midwives were taught the methods of drying Moringa leaves and grinding it to a powder to be used as a food additive. This method helped it retain much of its nutritional content. Evaluations were made in 1998 and 1999. The findings were excellent, leading AGADA to expand their project. By the next year, nearly all government health workers in south-west Senegal had been trained and were now involved in the project of solving malnourishment issues.
While Moringa leaves have certainly demonstrated their abilities to improve the health of malnourished individuals, one question remains: how significant can Moringa be in solving malnourishment issues? Once malnutrition has become severe, children require intensive hospital care to counter impaired intestinal and liver function, abnormal infections, and imbalanced electrolytes. However, if malnutrition can be caught in the mild or moderate stages, the terminal stage may be avoided altogether if their diet can be supplemented with Moringa, a leaf that could certainly have huge implications in fighting malnourishment.