Bangladesh 5th among countries with severely malnourished children

May 18, 2022

Says Unicef report
More than three lakh children, aged less than five years, suffered from severe malnutrition across the globe, reads a report by Unicef.
Bangladesh is the fifth-worst among countries where children suffer from severe malnutrition, according to the report.
South Asia is the epicentre of severe malnutrition among children with India being the worst and Pakistan the third worst.
The report titled “Severe wasting: An overlooked child survival emergency” showed that Bangladesh ranks fifth with 327,859 children affected by severe wasting while India ranked first with 5,772,472 affected children and Pakistan third with 678,925 affected children.
The report said, “In South Asia, the longstanding ‘epicentre’ of severe wasting, roughly 1 in 22 children is severely wasted. The absolute numbers and prevalence are massive, with at least 7.7 million children affected, three times as many as sub-Saharan Africa.”
It also said the situation in South Asia highlights most clearly how severe wasting is passed on from one generation to the next.
Almost 1 in 2 girls in the region are married before the age of 18, and 1 in 5 give birth before 18.
“The region is also home to high rates of underweight and anaemia among adolescent girls and pregnant or breastfeeding women.”
The other top 10 countries are Indonesia, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, the Philippines, Niger and South Africa.
It said the number of children with severe wasting was rising even before the war in Ukraine threatened to plunge the world deeper into a global food crisis and it was getting worse.
In spite of the rising levels of severe wasting in children and rising costs for life-saving treatment, global financing to save the lives of children suffering from wasting is also under threat, said the report.
“Even before the war in Ukraine placed a strain on food security worldwide, conflict, climate shocks and Covid-19 were already wreaking havoc on families’ ability to feed their children,” said Unicef Executive Director Catherine Russell.
“The world is rapidly becoming a virtual tinderbox of preventable child deaths and child suffering from wasting.”
Currently, at least 10 million severely wasted children — or 2 in 3 — do not have access to the most effective treatment for wasting, ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF).
Unicef warns that a combination of global shocks to food security worldwide — led by the war in Ukraine, economies struggling with pandemic recovery, and persistent drought conditions in some countries due to climate change – is creating conditions for a significant increase in global levels of severe wasting.
Severe wasting — where children are too thin for their height resulting in weakened immune systems — is the most immediate, visible and life-threatening form of malnutrition.
Worldwide, at least 13.6 million children, aged under five years, suffer from severe wasting, resulting in 1 in 5 deaths among this age group.
To reach every child with life-saving treatment for severe wasting, Unicef is calling for governments to increase wasting aid and countries to include treatment for child wasting under health and long-term development funding schemes so that all children can benefit from treatment programmes.
“There is simply no reason why a child should suffer from severe wasting – not when we have the ability to prevent it. But there is precious little time to reignite a global effort to prevent, detect and treat malnutrition before a bad situation gets much, much worse,” said Russell.

– With The Daily Star input

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