Following a report by the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC) that over 2.8 million people in the country are facing hunger UNICEF has predicted severe malnutrition in children, especially those under five in the coming months.
In a press statement released today, Unicef country representative Mahimbo Mdoe said the organisation was concerned over the health and survival of the nation’s youngest citizens in the wake of the report as almost half the children in the country are already undernourished.
“We already have a situation in Malawi where too many young children die from severe malnutrition and related infections. Our fear is that with the current food insecurity, and the reduction in meal frequency that is likely to happen, children will be further at risk from both severe acute malnutrition, and common childhood diseases, such as diarrhea and pneumonia. All are exacerbated by a child’s malnourished status, and can be fatal,” said Mdoe.
He said centres in Malawi where children receive treatment – (Nutrition Rehabilitation Units) are already recording high death rates, due to late admission and severe infections.
However, Mdoe said Unicef is working with Government partners and have developed a response plan that aims to save lives of women and children in the current crisis.
“Severe acute malnutrition is life threatening if not treated, these children can be saved if early screening and referral takes place, and quality treatment and feeding in line with protocols occurs in the treatment centres,” said Mdoe.
The Unicef representative said even though the organisation was facing a funding shortfall of US$10.8 million, efforts were underway by the Malawi Government and UN partners to support families that are suffering from food shortages, with both cash and maize distribution, “but the situation will be carefully monitored to ensure families, especially in hard-to-reach areas, are also served.”
“This is a worrying time for Malawi and it is critical that the Government and partners all work together to minimize the impact of this climatic disaster.” Mdoe said.
In his national address on the food security situation in Malawi, President Peter Mutharika said 17 per cent of the country’s total population will not be able to meet their annual food requirement during the 2015/16 consumption period.
He said government had developed the 2015/2016 Food Insecurity Response Plan which requires a total of US$146.378 million.
The president appealed to all development partners, other countries, non-governmental organizations, civil society, the private sector and individuals, both in Malawi and elsewhere, to complement government resources in assisting the food insecure households.