WHO warns 10,000 more underfed children could die each month amid pandemic
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic could leave an additional 10,000 children a month to die from starvation, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of WHO, said Wednesday that he expects an increase by nearly 14 percent in the number of children suffering from malnutrition this year, Reuters reported.
“We cannot accept a world where the rich have access to healthy diets while the poor are left behind,” he said at the United Nations Food and Agriculture conference.
Tedros predicted most of the 6.7 million more children to become malnourished will live in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
UNICEF shared similar concerns in July. The organization warned 6.7 million children under the age of 5 could become undernourished due to the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
“[I]t is increasingly clear that the repercussions of the pandemic are causing more harm to children than the disease itself,” said the executive director of UNICEF, Henrietta Fore, in the July press release.
“Household poverty and food insecurity rates have increased,” she said. “Essential nutrition services and supply chains have been disrupted. Food prices have soared. As a result, the quality of children’s diets has gone down and malnutrition rates will go up.”
Many of these children are in danger of “wasting,” or becoming so malnourished that they become too frail to perform daily tasks and suffer a greater risk of death, according to UNICEF.
A UNICEF report released in March showed that nearly 47 million children were wasting in 2019, prior to the pandemic.