UNICEF: Malnutrition in mothers soars by 25% in crisis-hit countries


New York: The number of pregnant and breastfeeding adolescent girls and women suffering from acute malnutrition has soared from 5.5 million to 6.9 million – or 25 percent – since 2020 in 12 countries hardest hit by the global food and nutrition crisis, according to a new report released by the UN International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) on Tuesday.


The 12 countries – including Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Yemen – represent the epicenter of a global nutrition crisis that has been exacerbated by the war in Ukraine and ongoing drought, conflict, and instability in some countries.


According to the report – an unprecedented and comprehensive look at the state of adolescent girls’ and women’s nutrition globally – more than one billion adolescent girls and women suffer from undernutrition (including underweight and short height), deficiencies in essential micronutrients, and anemia, with devastating consequences for their lives and wellbeing.


It also warned that inadequate nutrition during girls’ and women’s lives can lead to weakened immunity, poor cognitive development, and an increased risk of life-threatening complications – including during pregnancy and childbirth – with dangerous and irreversible consequences for their children’s survival, growth, learning, and future earning capacity.


The report called on governments, development and humanitarian partners and donors, civil society organizations, and development actors to transform food, health, and social protection systems for adolescent girls and women by prioritizing adolescent girls’ and women’s access to nutritious, safe and affordable diets, and protecting adolescent girls and women from ultra-processed foods through marketing restrictions, compulsory front-of-pack labeling and taxation.


The report also called for implementing policies and mandatory legal measures to expand large-scale food fortification of routinely consumed foods such as flour, cooking oil, and salt to help reduce micronutrient deficiencies and anemia in girls and women.


Source: Jordan News Agency