UNICEF: 165 million children chronically malnourished worldwide
Every fourth child worldwide under the age of five is chronically malnourished, reports the children's aid organization UNICEF, citing the current UNICEF report on the nutritional situation of children and mothers. Chronic malnutrition has far-reaching consequences, especially in the first months of life. In the worst case, the child's “brain and thus the cognitive abilities remain underdeveloped,” warns UNICEF. The affected children are harmed for the rest of their lives.
According to current figures, a total of 165 million children under the age of five worldwide suffer from malnutrition. The associated underdevelopment of children "not only affects a child's individual ability to learn and later earn a living, but also the social and economic progress of his country," reports UNICEF. UNICEF presented the report on nutrition for children and mothers worldwide in Dublin yesterday at the start of the international conference on hunger, nutrition and climate justice.
Malnutrition with far-reaching consequences for the whole of life Under the heading "The first 1,000 days have consequences forever", the children's aid organization reports in its current press releases on the key findings of the new UNICEF report. The children in southern Africa and Asia were particularly affected by nutritional underdevelopment. "80 percent of underdeveloped children live in only 14 countries," said UNICEF. The experts see the problem of underdevelopment as one of the reasons why the world will currently not be able to achieve the Millennium Development Goals comprehensively. In particular the fight against poverty and hunger, "the improvement of child and maternal health and the fight against HIV and AIDS is hampered by nutritional underdevelopment ".
One-third of infant deaths from malnutrition According to UNICEF, "malnutrition contributes to a third of all infant deaths and one-fifth of maternal deaths." Just guess UNICEF reports. It is obvious that the children affected are too small for their age. But the development of the brain and thus cognitive abilities are often permanently impaired. They are in the crucial first 1,000 days in the womb and by the second birthday are already in a position that cannot be made up. "Underdevelopment destroys children's potential and prevents opportunities for a country's development," commented UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake on the results of the current report.
Malnourished children have little chance of escaping poverty According to UNICEF, "three quarters live in South Asia or southern Africa, according to UNICEF." Children from poor families are particularly often affected by underweight and "the risks to children in rural areas are greater than for children in cities. ”Malnourished girls and boys“ get sick more often, go to school less often and their performance is reduced, ”reports UNICEF. According to the children's aid organization, the affected children have little "chances to escape the cycle of poverty", which is also reflected in the fact that they earn an average of 22 percent less money in later professional life than their peers, who were adequately fed as a child.
Illnesses also play a role in malnutrition Chronic malnutrition arises from a permanently insufficient intake of calories and nutrients. However, diseases such as frequent diarrhea or parasite infestation can also play a role, according to UNICEF. However, the good news is that "we know what works," said Anthony Lake. The current UNICEF report shows "that countries as diverse as Ethiopia, Haiti, Peru or Rwanda have already made great strides with targeted programs for better nutrition for children."
Aid programs with promising effects The latest UNICEF report shows that "good progress has been made in the fight against hidden hunger and other forms of malnutrition" in recent years, according to the children's aid organization, for example in India, where with 61 million most underdeveloped children live, "in the state of Maharashtra the proportion of affected children was reduced from 39 percent in 2005/2006 to 23 percent in 2012." Also in Peru the proportion of underdeveloped children decreased from 30 to 20 percent between 2006 and 2011. In Ethiopia, a reduction from 57 percent in 2000 to 44 percent in 2011 was achieved.
Targeted investments in nutrition and health Success in the fight against underdevelopment promise measures "that invest specifically in the nutrition and health of mothers and children"; this is the conclusion of UNICEF. The children's aid organization is contributing to the sustainable strengthening of health systems by financing the equipment of hospitals and the training of midwives and helpers. In addition, UNICEF says it distributes “large amounts of additional nutrients such as vitamins and minerals to pregnant women and children worldwide.” Nutrients such as iron and folic acid are particularly important for expectant mothers. Furthermore, "Mothers are informed about the advantages of breastfeeding and the right complementary foods for toddlers".
Knowledge and means to successfully combat malnutrition available In principle, according to UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake, "no child, no mother and no country in the 21st century should suffer from a lack of nutrition." Lake raised the question of what could be more unfair and cruel, " to condemn a life of deprivation as a child in the womb - especially if we know how to prevent it? ”There is no reasonable reason here if we have the knowledge and the ability to protect the children not to do now. The situation and development opportunities of children in poorer countries are also a yardstick for the distribution of wealth worldwide. In addition to the affected countries, the so-called industrialized nations are obliged to use the means necessary to ensure justice in order to offer children in developing countries a perspective. (fp)