The economic impact of COVID-19 on the world’s most populous region is threatening to further undermine efforts to improve diets and nutrition of nearly two billion people in Asia and the Pacific, particularly Afghanistan who were already unable to afford healthy diets prior to the pandemic, says a new report published by four specialized agencies of the United Nations.
The report highlights the dire situation in Afghanistan, which has the highest prevalence of undernourished children in South Asian countries – double that of other countries. In Afghanistan, 5 out of 10 poor children show signs of irreversible chronic malnutrition.
COVID-19 is making the situation worse. “We are seeing increases in number of children identified as wasted month by month,” said UNICEF Afghanistan Country Office Chief of Nutrition. “We estimate there will be just under one million children in Afghanistan severely wasted in the next 12 months which is 30% higher than last year. We attribute this to the effects of COVID-19 on poor families.”
According to the report, UNICEF works closely with government partners and other UN agencies to improve the diets of mothers and children in Afghanistan, focusing on meeting the urgent needs of severely malnourished children.