Thursday January 23, 2020

13 Million in Congo Suffer from ‘Hunger’ and ‘Malnutrition’: UN

U.N. is appealing for $1.65 billion in humanitarian aid for the country this year - more than double the $700 million plus that it raised last year to help 8.5 million people

0
//
malnutrition
FILE - A Congolese boy has his arm measured for malnutrition in a clinic run by medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres in the remote town of Dubie in Congo's southeastern Katanga province, March 18, 2006. VOA

The number of people needing humanitarian aid in Congo has increased dramatically in the past year to 13 million and “hunger and malnutrition have reached the highest level on record,” the head of the U.N. children’s agency said Monday.

UNICEF’s Executive Director Henrietta Fore told a news conference that 7.5 million of those needing aid are children, including 4 million suffering from acute malnutrition and over 1.4 million from severe acute malnutrition “which means that they are in imminent risk of death.”

U.N. humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock, who just returned from a visit to Congo with Fore, said the U.N. is appealing for $1.65 billion in humanitarian aid for the country this year – more than double the $700 million plus that it raised last year to help 8.5 million people.

UN, congo
U.N. is appealing for $1.65 billion in humanitarian aid for the country this year. Pixabay

He said the worsening humanitarian situation is the result of economic stresses including volatility in commodity prices and the turbulent political situation surrounding December’s elections, compounded by violence, increased displacement and the world’s second-largest Ebola outbreak. Fore added that farmers fleeing with their families and drought in some areas also contributed.

She said the difficulty is that last year’s U.N. appeal was only half funded, and if that same amount is contributed this year it will only be a quarter of this year’s appeal, “and the needs are immense.”

Fore cited more grim statistics: 2 million people were newly displaced last year; 7.3 million children are out of school; 300,000 children die each year before their fifth birthday; 3 in 10 women are reported to be victims of sexual violence; and in January alone there were 7,000 cases of measles and 3,500 cases of cholera.

UN, congo
UNICEF and its partners are providing psycho-social support, food and material assistance to the children, she said. Pixabay

Congo’s Health Ministry said Monday that the Ebola epidemic has now exceeded 1,000 cases, with a death toll of 629.

Fore said about 30 percent of the cases are children, and UNICEF has identified about 1,000 children who have been orphaned or left unaccompanied while their parents are isolated in Ebola treatment wards.

UNICEF and its partners are providing psycho-social support, food and material assistance to the children, she said.

In the major city of Bunia close to the epidemic’s center, Fore said U.N. and Red Cross officials visited a kindergarten where Ebola survivors who cannot get the virus were caring for orphaned and unaccompanied children.

UN, congo
Congo’s Health Ministry said Monday that the Ebola epidemic has now exceeded 1,000 cases, with a death toll of 629. Pixabay

The U.N. officials also visited Goma, Beni and Butembo and the capital Kinshasa where Lowcock said they had “extremely constructive talks” with Congo’s new president, Felix Tshisekedi.

ALSO READ: Military-Backed Party in Lead in Thailand’s Election

“We were encouraged by the new president” who said he would like to work closely with the U.N. on humanitarian issues and problems related to the millions of displaced people, the undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs said.

“Congo is a country where progress is possible,” Lowcock said, pointing to lower infant mortality, more children in school and Kinshasa becoming a modern African capital. (VOA)

Next Story

Promotional E-Cigarettes Posts on Instagram Outnumber Anti-Vaping Content: Study

E-cigarette popular on Instagram despite anti-vaping content

0
e-cigarettes
Despite "The Real Cost" awareness campaign launched by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2018, nearly one third of American teenagers are estimated to use e-cigarettes. Pixabay

Promotional e-cigarettes posts on popular photo-sharing platform Instagram outnumber anti-vaping content 10,000 to one, according to a new study and health news.

Despite “The Real Cost” awareness campaign launched by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2018, nearly one third of American teenagers are estimated to use e-cigarettes, the researchers said.

The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Communication, highlights the limited impact of the FDA campaign, while also using deep learning – an artificial intelligence method – to better understand the marketing tactics used by vaping companies.

“US public health officials have been calling vaping among youth an epidemic and have been putting a lot of effort into trying to stop this epidemic by introducing #TheRealCost anti-vaping campaign but this stark imbalance in the volume of posts has caused the FDA message to be overwhelmed by marketing from the vaping brands,” said study researcher Julia Vassey from University of California in the US.

e-cigarettes
Many teenagers continue to view e-cigarettes as healthier than conventional cigarettes, but vaping is associated with inflammation, reduced immune responses and breathing troubles. Pixabay

Many teenagers continue to view e-cigarettes as healthier than conventional cigarettes, but vaping is associated with inflammation, reduced immune responses and breathing troubles, the study said.

To further understand how vaping is perceived on social media, research team collected 245,894 Instagram posts spanning from before and after the #TheRealCost campaign launch.

The team also conducted interviews with five vaping influencers and eight college-age social media users. “We focused on Instagram because the vaping influencers we interviewed for this study identified Instagram as their most important social media marketing platform,” Vassey explained.

“Based on the results, the FDA anti-vaping campaign is not very popular and we saw Instagram user comments disputing the FDA claims of damaging health effects from nicotine and calling the campaign propaganda,” Vassey added.

Also Read- Drugs That Treat Arthritis in Dogs Can Kill Cancer Cells: Study

In contrast to the FDA’s intentions, the study found that vaping posts received nearly three times more “likes” after the campaign launch. They also found that there were six times as many posts that had greater than 100 likes.

According to the researchers, participants in the focus groups suggested that the anti-vaping campaign promoted scare tactics rather than offering guidance on how to quit vaping. (IANS)