Anita P. Thurakal
Master of Public Health Student
“F-75 …that sounds like something off a spaceship. We don’t want people to become addicted to an alien food.” That was how an Indian health official responded to Anita Thurakal when her team from the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) first proposed treating the most dire cases of pediatric severe acute malnutrition (SAM) in the state of Andhra Pradesh by using a combination of fortified milks known as F-75 and F-100. Although regarded by WHO as standard-of-care treatment for medically complicated SAM, and part of national health care guidelines, Indian health care facilities don’t tend to use the formulas.
Because of Thurakal’s efforts to sensitize decision makers and advocate for change, Andhra Pradesh is set to be one of the first states offering F-75 and F-100. Having informed health officials of evidence-based practices and drafted a state implementation plan and overseen its execution, Thurakal describes her work as “one of the most professionally satisfying experiences of my life.”
It also left her wanting to do more. “Organizing for something I believe in not only gives me personal and professional satisfaction,” she says, “but also helps me lead with purpose.”