Diseases and infections, although over looked, are significant causes of child malnutrition according to a report by Save the Children.
The report indicates that in crises, like drought, health systems become stretched, access to safe water is more difficult and poor hygiene and sanitation is common.
As a result, disease, diarrhoea and parasitic infections which prevent the absorption of nutrients in which without treatment, can quickly lead to a child becoming acutely malnourished.
Toward this end, the report recommends a different approach to treating malnutrition other than the traditional method of providing food staples.
It suggest that a malnourished child may require more nutritious food, micronutrient supplements ,to alleviate ‘hidden hunger’, special therapeutic foods or even medical treatment.
In says children with acute malnutrition requires treatment with ready-to-use therapeutic foods, a specially formulated nutrient-rich peanut paste saying it can bring children back from the brink.
Over 90 percent of children treated with these foods recover from malnutrition.
To survive the hunger crisis the report recommends scaling up early detection and treatment for acute malnutrition to reach the 80 percent of children who are not currently getting the treatment they need.
In addition protect, promote and support infant and young child feeding – particularly breastfeeding, which is one of the most effective ways of preventing deaths in children under five.
Further it recommends Investing in community and primary healthcare to prevent and treat childhood illnesses, which can both cause malnutrition and pose significant risk to already malnourished children
A severely acutely malnourished child is 11 times more likely to die from common diseases than a well-nourished child a Save the Children report has said.
This it said can be attributed to weakening of the immune system due to malnutrition turning common childhood illnesses into killer diseases.
The report dubbed, Looking Beyond Food; Child Survival in the Hunger Crises indicates that this problem can be solved by ensuring children get the right nutrients, particularly in the first 1,000 days of life, as it is critical to a child’s survival and healthy development.
With this 45 percent of all deaths of children under five globally occasioned by malnutrition would be averted.
Currently, at least 13.6 million children severely acutely malnourished, while up to 60 million 4 could be acutely malnourished globally.
In addition, 149 million children are also stunted due to sustained under nutrition, which irreversibly affects their long-term health.
Currently in Kenya over one million children under five years are suffering from malnutrition.