1 million Afghan children at risk of dying amid acute malnutrition, WHO says.
GENEVA: Around 3.2 million children are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition in Afghanistan by the end of this year, and one million of them are at risk of dying as temperatures drop, said a spokesman for the World Organization of the Cheers on Friday (November 12).
Aid agencies have warned of famine, as the drought coincides with a declining economy following the withdrawal of Western financial support following the Taliban takeover in August. The healthcare sector has been particularly hard hit, with many healthcare workers fleeing due to unpaid wages.
“It is an uphill battle as hunger takes over the country,” Margaret Harris told Geneva-based reporters by phone from the capital Kabul. “The world should not and cannot afford to turn its back on Afghanistan.”
Nighttime temperatures are dropping below zero degrees Celsius and colder temperatures are expected to make the elderly and young more susceptible to other illnesses, Harris said. In some places, people are cutting down trees to provide fuel for hospitals amid widespread shortages, he added.
Harris had no figures for the number of children who had already died from malnutrition, but he described “rooms full of young children”, including a seven-month-old baby whom he described as “smaller than a newborn.”
Measles cases are increasing in the country and WHO data shows that 24,000 clinical cases have been reported so far.
“For malnourished children, measles is a death sentence. We will see many more deaths if we do not move on this quickly,” Harris said.