Severe acute malnutrition among Afghan children below five years old has increased 13% within five months, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said at a press conference in Geneva.
Their data shows the number of children below five years old suffering from life threatening malnutrition rose from 690,000 in January to an estimated 780,000 in May 2020.
“This 13% increase over this short period of time is incredibly alarming,” she said. “Children suffering from severe acute malnutrition – especially those with other complications such as measles, or diarrhea, are at death’s door. They require specialized treatment.”
This comes amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and decades of insecurity in the country.
“Coping strategies have been stretched to the limit, hospitals are struggling, and even where services are available, families are afraid to bring children in for inpatient treatment due to fear of contagion,” the UNICEF official said.
“We fear worse is yet to come.”
The UNICEF recommended for the scaling up of nutrition services both at community and facility level to prevent more children slipping into severe malnutrition and to make sure life-saving treatment is available for those that do.