UNICEF calls for more efforts to stem child malnutrition

Photo used for illustration purposes only

NEW YORK – UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director Henrietta Fore and William Moore, CEO of the Eleanor Crook Foundation, on Friday called for more efforts to stem child malnutrition.

The converging forces of rising poverty, inequality, climate change, conflict and the COVID-19 pandemic are leading to an alarming exacerbation of the malnutrition crisis worldwide, Xinhua news agency reported them said in a joint statement ahead of World Food Day, which falls on Oct 16.

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According to the latest data, 149 million children under five have stunted growth and development, and at least 45 million suffer from wasting — the most life-threatening form of malnutrition. Two-thirds of young children are still not getting the minimum diverse diet they need to grow well. Without urgent action, an additional nine million children could suffer from wasting by 2022, they warned.

Children suffering from severe wasting are some of the most vulnerable children on the planet. They tend to be the youngest of the young and the poorest of the poor. Without receiving timely life-saving treatment, they are at extremely high risk of dying, they said.

“No child should die from malnutrition when we have the tools to avert it. Solutions to prevent, detect and treat child malnutrition early are well-known. With the right policy commitments, program investments and partnerships, we can end malnutrition,” said the joint statement.

The international community has a unique opportunity to build on government commitments made during September’s Food Systems Summit in New York and turn these into meaningful investments at December’s Nutrition for Growth Summit in Tokyo, they said, calling on development and humanitarian partners to — at a minimum — double their financial support to help fight child malnutrition and commit to workable solutions.