The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned on Tuesday of the rise in the number of children suffering from severe wasting around the world, stressing that the situation is getting worse.
In a new report titled “Severe wasting: A silenced emergency that threatens child survival,” the UN agency noted that with rising rates of severe childhood wasting and rising treatment costs for the condition, the global funding needed to save the lives of affected children is also at risk.
“Before the war in Ukraine affected global food security, families were already struggling to feed their children due to conflict, climate shocks and COVID-19,” said UNICEF Executive Director , Catherine Russell, adding that the world “is now on course to witness an explosion of preventable child deaths and childhood wasting”.
Currently, at least 10 million severely wasted children – two-thirds – do not have access to ready-to-use therapeutic foods, which are the most effective treatment for this condition.
According to UNICEF, the combined effects of global shocks, which are undermining global food security, namely the war in Ukraine, the difficulties of economic recovery in the aftermath of the pandemic and the persistent drought plaguing many countries as a result of climate change, are creating the conditions for a significant rise in rates of severe wasting across the world.
According to projections, the price of ready-to-use therapeutic foods is expected to increase by up to 16% over the next six months due to soaring raw material costs. A situation that risks depriving up to 600,000 more children of this life-saving treatment, given current funding levels, the UN agency said, noting that the equally high shipping and distribution costs are not expected either. lower more.
To ensure that every child suffering from severe wasting can receive life-saving treatment, UNICEF recommends that governments increase aid for wasting by at least 59% above ODA levels in 2019 , with the aim of reaching all children in need of treatment in 23 high-burden countries.
He also called for integrating the treatment of childhood wasting into long-term health and development funding plans, so that all children – even those not in humanitarian crisis – can benefit from treatment programs
And to conclude that donors and civil society organizations must make the fight against wasting a priority for financing in order to guarantee the diversification, enlargement and solidity of the ecosystem of financial support.