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UN Agencies Urgently Call To Prevent Coronavirus-Related Childhood Malnutrition and Death

July 28, 2020 (EIRNS)—Yesterday, the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Food Program (WFP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and UNICEF issued a call for action to prevent childhood malnutrition and death, now worsening in many places, reported in the British medical journal The Lancet at length on July 27.

They wrote: “As leaders of four UN agencies we are issuing a call for action to protect children’s right to nutrition in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. This requires a swift response and investments from governments, donors, the private sector, and the UN. Five actions must be taken and tracked immediately.” A panel summarizes:

“Safeguard and promote access to nutritious, safe, and affordable diets; Invest in improving maternal and child nutrition through pregnancy, infancy, and early childhood; Re-activate and scale up services for the early detection and treatment of child wasting; Maintain the provision of nutritious and safe school meals for vulnerable children; Expand social protection to safeguard access to nutritious diets and essential services.”

The four agencies estimated that at least $2.4 billion is needed immediately

“to protect these children, prevent and treat malnutrition, and avoid human loss. This $2.4 billion estimate includes an essential package of four life-saving interventions: prevention of wasting in children at risk; treatment for children who are wasted; biannual vitamin A supplementation for children aged 6-59 months (90% coverage); and mass communication for the protection, promotion, and support of breastfeeding that focuses on caregivers or families of children aged 0-23 months.

“The estimated increase in child wasting is only the tip of the iceberg. The COVID-19 pandemic is also expected to increase other forms of child malnutrition, including stunting, micronutrient deficiencies, and overweight. The global community’s failure to act now will have devastating long-term consequences for children, human capital, and national economies.”

Based on a 51-page report from April, the agencies recalled in their Executive Summary, “During the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014, more people died from the interruption of social services and economic breakdown than from the virus itself. This should not have happened, and the world cannot let it happen again....”

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