Millions of children suffer from acute malnutrition in 15 countries, including Sudan

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UN agencies have said Millions Children in 15 countries, including Sudan, are at risk of acute malnutrition, and she called for urgent action to be taken to protect them.

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Five United Nations agencies are calling for urgent action to protect the most vulnerable children in the countries hardest hit by the world’s unprecedented food and nutrition crisis.

The agencies have confirmed – according to the UN News Center – that more than “30” million children in the targeted countries are currently suffering from wasting – or acute malnutrition – and that “8” million of these children are suffering severe wasting, which is the deadliest form of undernutrition.

It also highlighted the significant threat to the lives of these children, as well as the long-term effects on their health and development that can affect these children, their communities and their countries.

Prevent, detect and treat

The call to action to accelerate progress on the Global Action Plan against Child Wasting emerged from a joint statement released today, Thursday, by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. Agriculture (FAO), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Program and the World Health Organization. .

The appeal aims to prevent, detect and treat acute malnutrition in children in the 15 most affected countries, which include Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia. , South Sudan, Sudan and Yemen.

Growing crisis

Conflicts, climatic shocks, the continued impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the rising cost of living are pushing more and more children towards acute malnutrition, while access to health, nutrition and other vital services becomes more difficult.

The situation is likely to “deteriorate” further in 2023, said FAO Director-General QU Dongyu, stressing the need to ensure availability, affordability and access to healthy food for young children, girls and pregnant and lactating women. urgent action to save lives now, tackle the root causes of acute malnutrition and work together across sectors.

The UN system is responding to this crisis as one organization, said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, adding that UNHCR is working hard to improve analysis and targeting to ensure that children most at risk, including internally displaced persons and refugees, are reached.

For her part, UNICEF Executive Director Katharine Russell said: “Today’s successive crises are leaving millions of children wasting away and making it harder for them to access basic services. Wasting is painful for the child and, in severe cases, can lead to death or permanent disability in the growth and development of the child. We can and must overcome this nutritional crisis with proven solutions for the prevention, early detection and treatment of childhood wasting.

Agencies have called for swift and decisive action to prevent the global crisis from turning into a tragedy for the most vulnerable children. She urged increased investment to support a coordinated UN response that meets the unprecedented needs of this growing crisis before it is too late.

WFP Executive Director David Beasley echoed this call for joint action: “It is essential that we work together to strengthen social safety nets and food assistance to ensure that specialized nutritious foods are available to women and children who need them most,” he said.

As for the Director General of the World Health Organization, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, he focused on the health aspect of the food crisis, describing it as a “vicious circle” in which malnutrition leads to disease. , and disease leads to malnutrition. He said urgent support was now needed in the worst affected countries to protect the lives and health of children.

What is Wasting?

Wasting, or severe malnutrition, is a form of nutritional deficiency caused by reduced food intake or illness that results in sudden weight loss or bloating.

Severely malnourished children have weakened immune systems and are more likely to die from common childhood illnesses. Survivors may face growth and development challenges throughout their lives, and they risk a future marked by illness, poor educational outcomes and poverty, with multiplier effects across generations.

Childhood wasting – defined as low weight for height – is the most severe form of undernutrition. Severe wasting is the deadliest, children who suffer from it are 12 times more likely to die than well-nourished children.

Global Action Plan

The Global Action Plan on Child Wasting was commissioned by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres in the summer of 2019 and includes cost-effective roadmaps to prevent, detect and treat child wasting in more than 20 countries around the world.

The plan addresses the development of a multi-sector approach, highlighting priority actions for maternal and child nutrition across food, health, water and sanitation systems and social protection.


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