The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) has embarked on a campaign to screen under-five children in 25 of the country’s 28 districts for possible malnutrition.
The campaign seeks to ensure that every child suffering from malnutrition gets access to life-saving treatment, and is a result of increasing food shortages and hunger in the country.
In a statement released on Tuesday, Unicef country representative Mahimbo Mdoe says the mass screening started on a low scale last week and will be intensified from next month
Said Mdoe: “Unicef’s concerns come as the country faces a combination of challenges, including food shortages, El Nino weather patterns, recovery from floods, a stagnant economy and a prolonged drought.
“Even if the rains are sufficient this growing season, families will still have to wait until March or April before the first crops are harvested. That is a further four months of food insecurity, when young children are at increased risk from disease or even death. As Unicef, we have to ensure that those children are seen, screened and, if necessary, treated for severe or moderate malnutrition.”
The programme is supported by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DfID), and is one of several emergency response activities to the hunger situation in the country.
The statement, however, says despite the food shortage malnutrition figures across the country stabilised over the past three months except for flood-hit Chikwawa, Phalombe and Nsanje. n
metres (96 million litres) a day. n