Malnutrition, a scourge that hits all-round progress - GulfToday

Malnutrition, a scourge that hits all-round progress


A muac tape used to screen malnutrition in children at the stabilization ward in Molai General Hospital Maiduguri, Nigeria. Reuters

Malnutrition is a scourge that kills the victim’s zest for life long before he or she dies. It particularly affects those in the developing world, such as nations in Africa and India. The scale of the problem can be gauged from the fact over 800 million worldwide suffer from malnutrition and hunger. What has made the situation worse is the coronavirus.

According to the UN, millions of families in 20 countries face the horrible onslaught of famine. This is where the 100 Million Meals drive of the UAE comes in handy.

The humongous humanitarian campaign seeks to provide food aid across 30 countries.

It provides 600,000 meals to the hapless in nations such as Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan, and highlights the credo of humanity that the nation is so famous for.

Undernourished children face debilitating consequences affecting their normal growth, cognitive development and immune systems. This can put hurdles in the progress of a child to become a normal adult. Chronic malnutrition also leads to 45 per cent of deaths among children under five worldwide.

Malnutrition means continuing the cycle of poverty in communities. This is unlike children who are well-fed with a balanced diet who are over 30 per cent more likely to escape poverty.

Glitches in food, health and social protection systems may mean over two million chronically undernourished children by 2022.

This is where UNITLIFE, a United Nations trust fund dedicated to countering chronic malnutrition, makes its utility felt: it was officially launched on the sidelines of the Generation Equality Forum in Paris.

The UAE’s support for UNITLIFE is very commendable and definitive.

The UAE’s Ramadan campaign has helped provide 216 million meals for the needy in 30 countries. All this goes to highlight that the UAE will always remain an international hub of philanthropy.

The record number of donations for the ‘100 Million Meals’ campaign are solid proof of the fact that strategic and sustainable humanitarian work has become an established culture in the UAE.

The drive has shown in definitive terms that where generosity and charity are concerned, the UAE has no limit.

Malnutrition has some terrible results. It crimps growth and all-round progress, makes children vulnerable to any kind of ailment and accounts for nearly half of all deaths of children under five worldwide.

One area that is seeing a glaring spiral of malnutrition is Ethiopia’s Tigray region which is under siege. Huge village areas where many people fled during three months of fighting remain out of reach of aid.

Ethiopian defence forces were reported to be occupying a hospital in Abi Adi, “preventing up to half a million people from having any kind of access to healthcare services.

There is considerable concern over the fate of about six million people in Tigray. They are caught in the crossfire between Ethiopian forces and now-fugitive Tigray leaders.

A Lancet analysis finds the prevalence of wasting among children under the age of five around the world can increase by 14.3 per cent in low- and middle-income countries this year, due to the socio-economic impact of COVID-19.

A 2016 report said malnutrition could hit half the world’s populace by 2035 unless there was a bid to reverse the tide.The problem is now affecting a third of the world’s population and costs the global economy an estimated $3.5 trillion a year, according to a UN report.

“Nutrition must be considered a public issue, a state responsibility,” FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva said at a global meet on nutrition. Concerted effort to improve the lives of the undernourished can help bring the problem under control. The international community must do more to help such hapless sections of society.

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