Acute Malnutrition risking 30 million children?s lives:WHO

Acute Malnutrition risking 30 million children’s lives:WHO

News: United Nations agencies have called for urgent action to protect the most vulnerable children in 15 countries hit the hardest by an unprecedented food and nutrition crisis. 

Background:
• According to the World Health Organization (WHO), conflict, climate shocks, the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 and rising living costs are rendering increasing numbers of children acutely malnourished. 

What is Malnutrition?
• Malnutrition refers to deficiencies, excesses or imbalances in a person’s intake of energy and/or nutrients.
• It covers 2 broad groups of conditions –
o Undernutrition - It includes stunting (low height for age), wasting (low weight for height), underweight (low weight for age) and micronutrient deficiencies or insufficiencies (a lack of important vitamins and minerals).
o Overweight - It includes obesity and diet-related non-communicable diseases (heart diseases, stroke, cancer and diabetes).

Key Findings:
• According to Director-General WHO – “The global food crisis is also a health crisis, and a vicious cycle: malnutrition leads to disease, and disease leads to malnutrition,” 
• Wasting/acute malnutrition, which is the deadliest form of undernutrition, is a major threat to children’s lives and their long-term health and development.
• Currently, more than 30 million children in the 15 worst-affected countries suffer from this and 8 million of these children are severely wasted.
• Meanwhile, critical health, nutrition and other life-saving services are becoming less accessible.

What is being done to tackle this?
• Five UN agencies subsuming WHO are calling for accelerated progress on the Global Action Plan on Child Wasting. These agencies are Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Food Programme (WFP) and WHO.  
• The action plan aims to prevent, detect and treat acute malnutrition among children in the worst-affected countries - Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, the Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Yemen.

Way Forward:
• Decisive and timely action is needed to prevent this crisis from becoming a tragedy for the world’s most vulnerable children. All agencies urged greater investment in support of a coordinated UN response that will meet the unprecedented needs of this growing crisis before it is too late. 

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