International (MNN) — The list
of countries on the brink of disaster because of the global food and fuel crisis is
growing. The United Nations promised
millions more for aid in the 62 hardest-hit countries.
CURE International's Mark Bush
says children suffer most, and now the impact is striking their hospitals. The ministry is working with each hospital on ways
that they can meet their budgets while still providing nutritional food to
their patients and caregivers. In
Zambia, they turned extra acres into a garden to supplement their food supply.
It's a creative approach to a
deepening problem. Bush says the food
plays a critical role in their work. "In
order to deliver care to each one of the children that comes to our hospital,
we set budgets for that. When something like this hits, where food increases in
such phenomenal percentages year after year, that certainly impacts our budget
from the standpoint of being able to provide care."
For example, take the scenario
facing the Beit Trust CURE International Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi. It's a 66-bed teaching hospital that
specializes in treating the orthopedic needs of children and adults.
Unlike most hospitals in developing
nations, CURE hospitals feed their patients. Malnourished children are often too weak for surgery, so the feeding
programs are essential to build up their ability to recover from surgery.
However, food prices have risen
faster than most people can handle in Malawi. Rice is up 74%, salt costs have risen 65%, maize has skyrocketed over
275%, and wheat prices are up 130% over last year's levels.
Whatever monies budgeted for food
have evaporated, and the result could bite into other programs. "If we're spending more of our money on
trying to feed the children at the hospital, it may be that we'll cut back a
little bit on the number of mobile clinics that we're able to do in a given
year," which then hurts outreach.
Bush explains that their programs
are "what gives us an opportunity not only to engage with a child and
tell them the good news of Jesus Christ, but it gives the opportunity to also
provide the same message to the parent."