Monday, October 7, 2013

Africa's Hunger Epidemic is a Fact, And We Must Act Now

362 children under five have died of malnutrition between January and September in Niger where the situation is now endemic, reported on Monday a UN office in Niger.

"According to the latest report of the epidemiological situation in the Zinder region, 79,087 cases of severe including 362 deaths of children under five have been recorded from January 1 to September 23 acute malnutrition," says a briefing note Office of the UN Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Niamey.

Nearly 90% of deaths were reported in the city of Zinder and Magaria Mirriah well as two other locations in the Zinder region, where about 2 million people, the same source.

Near Nigeria, Zinder, the second most populous region of Niger, is regularly hit by severe food crises consecutive drought affecting mainly children and women.

Malnutrition, moderate or severe, is present in eight regions of Niger, a poor desert state often faced food crises due to drought.

Since the beginning of the year, the NGO Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said they found a "rise" of malnutrition in many of its projects in the country, compared to the same period in 2012.

However, a national survey conducted in June Niger is a decline "of 14.8% in 2012 to 13.3% in 2013" of acute malnutrition among children under five years, although it remains "in- above the warning threshold of 10% set by the World Health Organization (WHO). "

During the first seven months of the year, 505,976 cases of malnutrition have been treated by the public health facilities of Niger, nearly half of the cases expected in 2013, says the Nigerian Ministry of Health.

According to UNICEF, malnutrition is caused mainly by the lack of essential nutrients in children, resulting in stunted growth and weakening the immune system against common childhood diseases.

Infectious diseases, lack of clean drinking water and sanitation "contribute significantly to the deterioration" of the nutritional status of children, says the Ministry of Health.

Especially, "malnutrition and malaria," remain "a deadly combination for children 5 years", warn NGOs.


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