The United Nations on Thursday launched an appeal for funds to come to the aid "before it is too late" of 30 million children suffering from acute malnutrition in countries affected by the food crisis.
"More than 30 million children in the 15 most seriously affected countries suffer from wasting - or acute malnutrition - and eight million of these children suffer from severe wasting, the most deadly form of undernutrition", underline five agencies of the United Nations in a joint statement.
The 15 countries affected are Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, Sudan South and Yemen.
Skyrocketing food prices are aggravating food shortages and preventing access to basic food at affordable prices. Conflicts, climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic have worsened the situation, according to the agencies.
"This situation is likely to deteriorate even more in 2023," warned the Director General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Qu Dongyu.
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UN agencies are calling for increased investment to support their efforts to meet “the unprecedented needs arising from this deepening crisis before it is too late”.
Agencies want to prevent, detect and treat acute child malnutrition by acting on all fronts: food, health, water, hygiene, and social protection systems. It is necessary to ensure that healthy food is "available, accessible and affordable", stressed Qu Dongyu.
The action plan will concern children under the age of 5, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and mothers and caregivers of children under the age of 5.
"The current cascading crises leave millions of children severely malnourished and have made it more difficult for them to access essential services," said Catherine Russell, Executive Director of UNICEF.
“Wasting is a source of suffering for the child, and in severe cases, it can lead to death or permanent damage to the growth and development of children,” she added.
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This crisis must be tackled with "proven solutions to prevent, detect and treat child wasting at an early stage", Ms Russell said.
Severely malnourished children have weakened immune systems and are at increased risk of dying from common childhood illnesses.
"The global food crisis is also a health crisis, as well as a vicious circle: malnutrition leads to disease, and disease leads to malnutrition," concluded Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Food Organization. Health (WHO).
"Urgent support is needed now in the worst-affected countries to protect children's lives and health," he said.
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