“Therapeutic foods” aiding 1,000,000 malnourished African children: UNICEF

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Africa

“Therapeutic foods” aiding 1,000,000 malnourished African children: UNICEF
"Specially developed ready-to-use therapeutic foods” and nutrient packs are helping to feed more than one million malnourished children in the Sahel region of Western and Central Africa, according to UNICEF.

The region around is suffering badly from low rain, poor harvests and spiraling food costs, leaving 1,025,000 malnourished children, UNICEF said, which noted the crisis was becoming more severe.

The United Nations children’s agency said it was working on the ground to distribute food supplies and noted $10 could provide 321 micronutrient powder packs, which were part of the distributed goods.

"Specially developed ready-to-use therapeutic foods are the best way to treat severe acute malnutrition among children under five so they have a chance to survive and recover,"​ said UNICEF executive director Anthony Lake.

"The biggest challenge we face now is getting sufficient amounts of these critical foods to children as the need increases in the coming months — and the window is closing."

“Niger will be among the countries hardest hit, with roughly 330,600 children under-five at risk of severe and acute malnutrition. The government has already issued an alert stating more than half of the country's villages are vulnerable to food insecurity. Other countries and regions where children are expected to require treatment are Burkina Faso, northern Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, northern Nigeria and northern Senegal.”

UNICEF chief of nutrition, Werner Schultink, said malnutrition often led to other sicknesses and impacted the ability of children to learn at school, and their development into adulthood.

"That situation is far too common in the Sahel zone countries,"​ he said.

“simple packages of vitamins and minerals”

Schultink said increased levels of breastfeeding, better hygiene and better diarrheoa treatment would help, along with, “simple packages of vitamins and minerals would be provided at low-cost, you would already achieve a great reduction in this chronic undernutrition."

Lake added: "The children at risk today in the Sahel are not mere statistics by which we may measure the magnitude of a potential humanitarian disaster. They are individual girls and boys, and each has the right to survive, to thrive and to contribute to their societies. We must not fail them."

Groups like Vitamin Angels work with industry to encourage nutrient suppliers to donate some of their wares to developing world problems like malnutrition and infant blindess.

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