Many Malawian children will be stunted especially those under five in the coming months because they do not have enough to eat, UNICEF has predicted.
Unicef country representative Mahimbo Mdoe said the organisation was concerned over the health and survival of the nation’s youngest citizens in the wake of the report by the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC) that over 2.8 million people in the country are facing hunger as almost half the children in the country are already undernourished.
It says much more needs to be done to tackle malnutrition in one of the world’s poorest country.
“We already have a situation in Malawi where too many young children die from severe malnutrition and related infections,” Mdoe said in a media statement.
“ Our fear is that with the current food insecurity, and the reduction in meal frequency that is likely to happen, children will be further at risk from both severe acute malnutrition, and common childhood diseases, such as diarrhea and pneumonia. All are exacerbated by a child’s malnourished status, and can be fatal,” said Mdoe.
He said centres in Malawi where children receive treatment – (Nutrition Rehabilitation Units) are already recording high death rates, due to late admission and severe infections.
Unicef is working with Government partners and have developed a response plan that aims to save lives of women and children in the current crisis, according to Mdoe.
“Severe acute malnutrition is life threatening if not treated, these children can be saved if early screening and referral takes place, and quality treatment and feeding in line with protocols occurs in the treatment centres,”
President Peter Mutharika said 17 per cent of the country’s total population will not be able to meet their annual food requirement during the 2015/16 consumption period.
He said in a notional address that government had developed the 2015/2016 Food Insecurity Response Plan which requires a total of US$146.378 million and appealed for food aid.
Malnutrition is generally a problem in Malawi, where 4 per cent of the children suffer from severe acute malnutrition and 42 per cent are affected by stunting (too short for age), which can slow physical and cognitive growth.
Moreover, the diet of many Malawian children looks just about the same every day, depriving them of the variety of food they need to grow into strong adults.
According to the Malawi MDG Endline Survey, only 26.6 per cent of children between 6 months and 2 years received foods from four or more food groups during the previous day.
Landlocked Malawi is one of the world’s most densely populated and least developed countries, with 80 percent of the population living in rural areas and the economy largely dependent on agriculture.
Life expectancy is 60 years, and more than half the population live below the poverty line.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :