UN calls for urgent action to fight acute child malnutrition ‘before it is too late’

LONDON : The UN called Thursday for urgent funding to help millions of children suffering from acute malnutrition brought on by conflict, climate shocks, ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the rising cost of living.

“Currently, more than 30 million children in the 15 worst-affected countries suffer from wasting — or acute malnutrition — and eight million of these children are severely wasted, the deadliest form of undernutrition,” the five UN agencies said in a joint statement.

The 15 countries are Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Yemen.

A broader investment is needed to meet the “unprecedented needs of this growing crisis, before it is too late,” it said.

The UN also said that children with the condition have weakened immune systems and are at higher risk of dying from common childhood diseases.

“Eight million are severely wasted – the deadliest form of undernutrition — meaning they are 12 times more likely to die than children who get enough to eat,” it added.

Qu Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, said the situation is likely to worsen even further this year.

“We must ensure availability, affordability and accessibility of healthy diets for young children, girls and pregnant and lactating women. We need urgent action now to save lives and to tackle the root causes of acute malnutrition, working together across all sectors,” he said. — AA


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