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Quarter Of A Million Children May Have Died Of Starvation This Year – REPORT

 

More than 260,000 children aged under five may have died from extreme hunger or related diseases in East Africa since the start of the year, according to new analysis by Save the Children.

Using data compiled by the UN, Save the Children evaluated mortality rates for untreated cases of severe acute malnutrition in children under five across eight countries in East Africa and discovered that about 262,500 acutely malnourished children may have died between January and November 2021.

East Africa is currently experiencing the devastating impacts of climate change, with concurrent emergencies like drought and floods across the region leading to mass displacement and severe hunger.

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While communities in eastern Kenya, southern Somalia, and parts of Ethiopia are reeling from successive drought, parts of South Sudan remain underwater after three years of unpredictable and excessive rains.

Health centre admissions of children suffering acute malnutrition have risen dramatically in 2021, with a 16% increase in the first half of this year from an already high baseline. Severe acute malnutrition is the most extreme and dangerous form of undernutrition. Symptoms include jutting ribs and loose skin, with visible wasting of body tissue; or swelling in the ankles, feet and belly as blood vessels leak fluid under the skin. Currently, less than half of acutely malnourished children (46 percent) across East Africa are being treated for the condition.

Globally, malnutrition is linked to nearly half of all under-five deaths. In 2020, 149 million children were stunted (too short) and 45 million children were wasted (too thin). Without fast and decisive action from the global community, an additional 3.6 million children around the world will become stunted by 2022 and an additional 13.6 million children wasted because of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The organisation is urging donors to prioritise humanitarian cash and voucher assistance for families, and focus on the increased risk of violence—particularly gender-based violence—caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, only by ending global conflict, tackling changing climate and food systems, and building more resilient systems and communities will future similar disasters be averted.

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Written by PH

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