Children, $87.7 million needed to address urgent needs of 3.3 million malnourished children

Children, $87.7 million needed to address urgent needs of 3.3 million malnourished children

ROME - At least 573,000 children under five are at risk of malnutrition in Malawi, warns theUNICEF. Despite recent progress in reducing chronic undernutrition, acute food insecurity, exacerbated by recurring climate shocks, preventable epidemics, economic instability and chronic underfunding in social sectors, threatens to reverse past gains. Malawi is still grappling with the devastation caused by Tropical Cyclone Freddy in March, with 659,000 people currently displaced, many of them children. Meanwhile, an ongoing cholera epidemic in the country has already claimed the lives of 1,759 people.

In Malawi the global polycrisis. "Children in Malawi are at the acute end of the global polycrisis. Food insecurity, exacerbated by a growing climate crisis, epidemics and global economic downturn, threatens to wreak havoc and disrupt the lives of millions of children," said l 'UNICEF. Country Representative Gianfranco Rotigliano. "The prospect of having over half a million children suffering from malnutrition is unacceptable. Without an immediate response, the impact on these vulnerable children will be deadly."

Cases of malnutrition are on the rise. A new appeal of Humanitarian Action for Children (HAC), launched today byUNICEF, shows an increase in cases of malnutrition among children in Malawi over the past five years, with the challenge accelerating significantly in recent months. In 2023 alone, more than 62,000 children, aged 6 to 59 months, are estimated to be at risk of severe acute malnutrition (SAM), often called wasting. To address the urgent needs of 6.5 million people, including 3.3 million children, UNICEF increased its Malawi appeal from $52.4 million to $87.7 million. This funding will be used to address priority needs, such as ready-to-use therapeutic foods (RUTF) for the treatment of severe acute malnutrition, access to safe drinking water, sanitation, hygiene items, health , nutrition, education, child protection services and cash transfer schemes.

It is essential to invest immediately in effective solutions. In the first quarter of 2023, with the support of donors and partners, theUNICEF assisted the Government of Malawi in screening 140,307 children under the age of five for acute malnutrition. Of these, 522 children were identified as having SAM and were referred to health facilities for further treatment. "Without increased support, poor and vulnerable families with children will be left without access to basic services, essential supplies and social assistance," Rotigliano said. "But beyond the immediate response, investing in long-term solutions by strengthening systems and building resilience within communities to better manage recurring outbreaks and humanitarian emergencies is critical."

The support of UNICEF. In the first quarter of 2023, with support from donors and partners, UNICEF supported the Government of Malawi to achieve the following:

- Reached over 1.2 million people with sufficient quantity and quality of water for household and drinking needs, over 3 million with critical water, sanitation and sanitation supplies, and over 200,000 with adequate sanitation.
- Supported over 19,000 children and adults in accessing care at cholera treatment centres.
- Trained more than 11,000 health and community workers in infection prevention and control, as well as cholera case management.
- Provided money transfers to 20,921 households in Blantyre and Zomba, two key districts affected.
- Training of 243 teachers on cholera prevention and management in 92 schools, benefiting 167,379 young students.

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