By: The Kabul Times
KABUL: Severe acute malnutrition among children in Afghanistan has increased at an alarming rate, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Friday. The number of children below five years old suffering from life threatening malnutrition has risen from 690,000 in January to an estimated 780,000 in May, UNICEF spokesperson, Marixie Mercado, said at a press conference in Geneva. “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 amid ongoing coronavirus crisis and insecurity linked to four decades of conflict in Afghanistan. “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,” Mercado said expressing “fear worse is yet to come.” She called for nutrition services in Afghanistan to be scaled up to prevent more severe malnutrition among children. “It is vital that nutrition services both at community and facility level are scaled up to prevent more children slipping into severe malnutrition and to make sure life-saving treatment is available for those that do.