ISLAMABAD: The United Nations on Monday warned that the number of children suffering from wasting in Pakistan’s flood-affected areas had greatly increased compared to the pre-flood situation, which was already reaching emergency levels.
A rapid survey conducted in 15 flood-affected districts suggests that nearly one-third of children aged 6-23 months suffer from moderate acute malnutrition and 14 per cent from severe acute malnutrition – a life-threatening form of malnutrition- with girls being more affected than boys, according to a press release.
The number of children suffering from severe acute malnutrition with medical complications who are admitted for hospital treatment has also gradually increased since the floods, as global food prices soar.
“Even before the floods, child wasting was already reaching emergency levels, but what I am seeing now in villages is very worrying,” said Julien Harneis, the UN Resident Coordinator in Pakistan.
He said we are grateful for the global community’s support so far, but much more is needed to help the Government provide the increasing numbers of children who are at risk of death with immediate therapeutic food and care.
He said we must help the Government avert a nutrition crisis which would have dangerous and irreversible consequences for millions of children, and for the future of Pakistan.
The Resident Coordinator announced that he would dedicate USD $5.5 million out of the USD $6.5 million allocation received from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) — four-fifths of the grant — towards emergency nutrition and food security interventions.
He said this additional USD $5.5 million will help UNICEF, WFP, WHO and NGOs provide emergency nutrition interventions as part of the Government-led flood response in the most vulnerable communities of Balochistan and Sindh, with OCHA coordinating and ensuring that the funds are used in an efficient manner.
But with only one-third of the nutrition interventions included in the Floods Response Plan funded so far, additional funding is urgently required to implement early identification, integrated prevention and treatment of malnutrition in a greater number of villages and healthcare facilities, he added.
He said there is also a need to increase the number of interventions that improve availability, affordability and accessibility to nutritious foods that protect children from wasting.
According to the press release, led by the Government of Pakistan, with support from UN agencies and NGOs, the Food Security and Agriculture Sector has provided life-saving assistance to nearly 7 million people and the Nutrition Sector to nearly 1 million people since the climate disaster hit the country last summer, but many needs remain unmet.