Malnutrition problems particularly affect pregnant women in countries affected by the global food crisis, with very harmful consequences for their children.
- More than a billion women and adolescent girls around the world suffer from undernutrition – resulting in underweight and short stature –, deficiencies in essential micronutrients and anaemia.
- Malnutrition problems particularly affect Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Chad and Yemen.
- Malnutrition increases the risk of neonatal mortality but also impairs fetal development, generating lasting effects on children’s nutrition, growth and learning.
Unicef is sounding the alarm: the number of pregnant women and nursing mothers suffering from acute malnutrition has increased by 25% since 2020 in 12 countries at the “epicenter” of the global food crisis, with deleterious consequences for children.
UNICEF report, based on analysis of data on underweight and anemia in nearly every country, estimates more than 1 billion women and adolescent girls worldwide suffer from undernutrition – resulting in underweight and short stature – essential micronutrient deficiencies and anaemia, most of them in the poorest regions. Thus, South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa account for 68% of women and adolescent girls who are underweight and 60% of those suffering from anemia.
51 million children under 2 are stunted
These nutritional deficiencies have an impact on the well-being of these women, but also affect their children, underlines Unicef, noting that “Poor nutrition is passed down from generation to generation”. Malnutrition increases the risk of neonatal mortality but also harms “to fetal development, generating lasting effects on children’s nutrition, growth and learning, as well as their future ability to support themselves”.
“Globally, 51 million children under the age of 2 are stunted. We estimate that in almost half of cases, it occurs during pregnancy and the first six months of life, when a child’s nutrition is entirely dependent on its mother.emphasizes the report, which pays particular attention to pregnant and breastfeeding women.
6.9 million pregnant women suffer from acute malnutrition in 12 countries
It thus estimates that between 2020 and 2022, the number of pregnant or breastfeeding women suffering from acute malnutrition has increased by 25%, from 5.5 to 6.9 million, in 12 countries in food crisis (Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Chad and Yemen).
“If the international community does not act urgently, this crisis could have lasting consequences for future generations”warned in a press release the director general of Unicef, Catherine Russell. “To prevent undernutrition among children, we must also address malnutrition among adolescent girls and women.”
UNICEF therefore calls for women and girls to be given priority in terms of access to nutritious food, to put in place binding measures to “scaling up food fortification” such as flour, cooking oil or salt, or to eliminate certain discriminatory practices leading to the inequitable sharing of food in households.
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