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Life-threatening Child Malnutrition rates rising to alarming levels in drought-hit Somalia, may lead to Famine

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Newly displaced Somali mother Bisharo Ali Sidow, 27, gives water to her malnourished son Hassan Hussein Ali, at a camp in the Sahal area on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Somalia Saturday, April 8, 2017. Somalia's current drought is threatening half of the country's population, or about 6 million people, according to the United Nations and while aid agencies have scaled up efforts they say more support is urgently needed. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh) VOA

Life-threatening child malnutrition rates are rising to alarming levels in drought-hit Somalia, the international aid group Save the Children said Thursday.

A new survey found “very critical” levels of severe malnutrition in two of six districts assessed in some of the worst-affected parts of Somalia.

“We are on the brink of a massive catastrophe in Somalia with the death of three quarters of the country’s livestock, a rapid increase of children suffering severe malnutrition and the depletion of water stores in dozens of communities,” said Hassan Saadi Noor, Save the Children’s Somalia country director, who said he fears seeing “children dying in significant numbers.”

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Less than 10 percent of children in Somalia are currently registered in a nutrition program according to the study, which warns that children could start dying “in the near future” unless immediate action is taken such as a major and rapid scaling up of feeding schemes.

“Donors have stepped up in recent months, however such is the scale of this crisis that even more funding is needed to address malnutrition directly, including improving access to food and water,” said Noor. “Children must be treated for malnutrition now … Famine is a distinct possibility for Somalia. It is an absolute travesty that this is even conceivable when just six years ago this same region was hit by a famine that killed over 250,000 people.”

The drought has left 6.2 million people – more than half of the population of Somalia – in need of immediate lifesaving assistance and a further 8.3 million in Kenya and Ethiopia are also need of urgent help, he said. (VOA)

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FAO: 822 Million Suffer from Chronic Malnutrition; 2K Million Face Food Insecurity

The food of the future will be conditioned by the increase of the world's population, rapid urbanization and changes in diets, especially in middle and low-income countries

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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

Almost 822 million people suffered from chronic malnutrition and about 2,000 million had food insecurity in 2018, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN has said in a report.

New Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Qu Dongyu, faces the challenge of mobilizing more public and private efforts against malnutrition, in a clear rise in the world for the last three years.

Qu will follow the steps of Brazilian José Graziano da Silva, who during his eight years in charge of the FAO will insist on the need to achieve healthier and more sustainable diets as producing enough food globally has not been enough to end hunger, Efe news reported.

Experts demand actions against poor diets to eradicate any ways of malnutrition by 2030, a global goal set by the Agenda for Sustainable Development.

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Experts demand actions against poor diets to eradicate any ways of malnutrition by 2030, a global goal set by the Agenda for Sustainable Development. Pixabay

“Governments must facilitate a change in private sector activity in favour of more nutritious, affordable and accessible” Director of Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition (GloPAN) Sandy Thomas told Efe.

She urged the need to reach a common understanding of the “appropriate combination of regulations and incentives”, such as economic aid and subsidies that should support the transformation within the private sector through investment, innovation and efficiency.

It is estimated that in 2016 countries from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) invested more than 200 billion dollars in aid to agriculture. This quantity doubles when including aid from emerging countries.

Current subsidies have led to a model where “producers do not offer what they should” as they continue to provide, above all, cereals such as corn and rice, and products such as meat while it’s more important to eat more fruits and vegetables, the report said.

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A Somali boy receives a polio vaccination at the Tunisian hospital in Mogadishu. The hospital treats local diseases, malnutrition, and other injuries. VOA

Poor diet and malnutrition are responsible for 1 out of 3 deaths and can cause noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes or cancer, which cost the world more than 6,3 trillion dollars per year.

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Being overweight and obesity have become a “tsunami” that, paradoxically, coexists with hunger in many countries and requires “more collaboration between sectors,” said Chief Executive Officer of the Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance (NCDs) Katie Dain.

The food of the future will be conditioned by the increase of the world’s population, rapid urbanization and changes in diets, especially in middle and low-income countries. Executive Director of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), Lawrence Haddad, urged the sector to find “new allies” since governments or donors “alone” will not be able to end malnutrition. (IANS)