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Children in Africa Starve Due to Climate Change: Save the Children

Climate crisis is causing hunger for millions of children in Africa

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Children in Africa
A young girl at a temporary shelter for children in Africa. VOA

By Henry Ridgwell

Millions of people in southern and eastern Africa are facing emergency food insecurity partly caused by climate change, half of them children, according to the charity Save the Children. The region has been hit by extreme cyclones, flooding and drought in recent months and scientists say it is warming much faster than other parts of the world.

Cyclone Idai smashed into Mozambique in March, killing more than 1,300 people. Villages were washed away and cities inundated, while farmers saw their crops and livestock destroyed. The cyclone  one of the biggest on record  is estimated to have caused more than $2 billion worth of damage across the region.

A month later, Mozambique was hit by another storm, Cyclone Kenneth, killing dozens more people. “Never before has this country been hit by two cyclones in the same season,” says Gabriella Waaijman, the global humanitarian director of Save the Children.

Waaijman says 2019 will be remembered as the year that the climate crisis devastated parts of eastern and southern Africa  adding that at least 33 million people in the region face emergency levels of food insecurity, with about 16 million of them children.

Children food Africa
Children queue for food in a camp for people displaced in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai in Beira, Africa. VOA

“The link to climate change is actually the compounding effect of emergency after emergency after emergency,” Waaijman says, adding, “So the ability for people to recover from a shock, like a drought or a flood at the moment even, is getting less and less and less. And therefore their livelihoods are slowly but surely being eroded and literally washed away.”

A 2015 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows temperatures rising in southern Africa at twice the global rate. Save the Children says leaders of industrialized nations must commit to bigger cuts in greenhouse gas emissions  and greater support for those most affected by climate change.

“If you are a child growing up in eastern or southern Africa, your chances of survival are currently being affected by actions that are taken by people in a completely different part of the world to which you have very little control or effect on,” Waaijman told VOA.

Also Read- Realme to Release Only 5G Mobile Phones in China from Year 2020

Twenty-nine thousand delegates are meeting in Madrid for the COP25 climate conference. U.S. President Donald Trump is not attending, having withdrawn from the landmark Paris climate agreement which he says would unfairly penalize the United States’ economy while other nations continue to emit greenhouse gases. (VOA)

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Measles Kills 140,000 people, WHO Calls it “Collective Failure”

WHO Decries 'Collective Failure' as Measles Kills 140,000

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Measles- WHO
A child reacts after receiving a measles-rubella vaccination in Yangon, Myanmar. VOA

Measles infected nearly 10 million people in 2018 and killed 140,000, mostly children, as devastating outbreaks of the viral disease hit every region of the world, the World Health Organization said on Thursday.

In figures described by its director general as “an outrage,” the WHO said most of last year’s measles deaths were in children under five years old who had not been vaccinated.

“The fact that any child dies from a vaccine-preventable disease like measles is frankly an outrage and a collective failure to protect the world’s most vulnerable children,” said the WHO’s director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus.

The picture for 2019 is even worse, the WHO said, with provisional data up to November showing a three-fold increase compared with the same period in 2018.

The United States has already reported its highest number of measles cases in 25 years in 2019, while four countries in Europe — Albania, the Czech Republic, Greece and Britain — lost their WHO “measles-free” status in 2018 after suffering large outbreaks.

An ongoing outbreak of measles in South Pacific nation of Samoa has infected more than 4,200 people and killed more than 60, mostly babies and children, in a battle complicated by a vocal anti-vaccination movement.

Globally, measles vaccination rates have stagnated for almost a decade, the WHO said. It and the UNICEF children’s fund say that in 2018, around 86% of children got a first dose of measles vaccine through their country’s routine vaccination services, and fewer than 70% got the second dose recommended to fully protect them from measles infection.

Highly contagious

Samoa Measles
A child gets vaccinated at a health clinic in Apia, Samoa. Samoa. VOA

Measles is one of the most contagious known diseases — more so than Ebola, tuberculosis or flu. It can linger in the air or on surfaces for several hours after an infected person has been and gone — putting anyone not vaccinated at risk.

In some wealthier nations, vaccination rates have been hit by some parents shunning them for what they say are religious or philosophical reasons. Mistrust of authority and debunked myths about links to autism also weaken vaccine confidence and lead some parents to delay protecting their children.

Research published in October showed that measles infection not only carries a risk of death or severe complications including pneumonia, brain damage, blindness and deafness, but can also damage the victim’s immune memory for months or years — leaving those who survive measles vulnerable to other dangerous diseases such as flu or severe diarrhea.

The WHO data showed there were an estimated 9,769,400 cases of measles and 142,300 related deaths globally in 2018. This compares to 7,585,900 cases and 124,000 deaths in 2017.

Also Read- UN Aims at Curbing Carbon Emissions Globally

In 2018, measles hit hardest in Liberia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Somalia and Ukraine, the WHO said, with these five nations accounting for nearly half of global cases.

Robert Linkins, a specialist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the data were worrying: “Without improving measles vaccine coverage we’re going to continue to see these needless deaths. We must turn this trend around.” (VOA)