1M Children Die Annually Due to Severe Wasting-UNICEF

October 9, 2023

Globally, at least one million children under 5 years die annually due to severe wasting, making it one of the top threats to child survival according to a new report by UNICEF.

This is because severe wasting turns childhood illnesses into killer diseases. Children who are severely wasted succumb to those diseases because their bodies provide virtually no protection against the bacteria, viruses or fungi that infect them the report said.

Additionally, at least 13.6 million children under the age of 5 suffer from severe wasting globally.

The report, Severe wasting; An overlooked child survival emergency says that this is one of the top threats to child survival.

Wasting, is the low weight-for-height and is the most visible and lethal type of malnutrition? It affects over 45 million children under age of 5. On the same breath, severe wasting, also known as severe acute malnutrition, is its most deadly form. It is caused by a lack of nutritious food and repeated bouts of diseases such as diarrhoea, measles, and malaria, which compromise a child’s immunity

The report continues to say that wasting cases have been created by conflict and climate shocks and the ongoing economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, precisely where the risk of child mortality is already highest. Some countries have seen a 40 percent or more increase in child waste since 2016

A severely wasted child is up to 11 times more likely than a well-nourished child to die of common childhood illnesses such as pneumonia, the single largest infectious cause of death in children worldwide

India Indonesia Pakistan Nigeria Bangladesh Democratic Republic Of The Congo Ethiopia Philippines and Niger South Africa are the top 10 countries with children that have severe malnutrition.

The organization said that the total cost to treat a child with Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) is about US$100 or Ksh 150,000.

UNICEF indicates that the average price of life-saving RUTF is projected to increase by up to 16 percent over the next six months, which may reduce access to RUTF and put more children’s lives at risk.




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