India has world’s highest number of children with severe acute malnutrition: UNICEF

What is the News?

UNICEF has released a report titled Severe wasting: An overlooked child survival emergency”.

What is Severe Wasting?

Wasting is defined as low weight-for-height. It is the most visible and lethal type of malnutrition. It affects over 45 million children under age 5. 

Severe wasting is also known as severe acute malnutrition is its most deadly form. It is caused by a lack of nutritious food and repeated bouts of diseases such as diarrhoea, measles and malaria, which compromise a child’s immunity.

Severe wasting in a child can increase the risk of dying by pneumonia by 11 times and essentially makes otherwise common diseases fatal.

What are the key findings of the report?

Severe Wasting: Globally, 1 in 5 deaths among children under age 5 is attributed to severe wasting making it one of the top threats to child survival.

Region-wise: South Asia remains the hub of severe wasting with figures worse than sub-Saharan Africa. At least 7.7 million children in the region are affected.

Country-wise: India has 5,772,472  children below five years affected by severe wasting — the most in the world. Indonesia ranked second with 812,564 children suffering from severe wasting.

Ready-to-use therapeutic food(RUTF) saved some five million children’s lives in 2020, but 10 million severely wasted children went without it.

Note: RUTF is considered the ‘gold standard for wasting treatment. It consists of a paste of peanuts, sugar, oil and milk powder. It can be consumed directly from the sachets it is packed in with or without mixing with milk to lower the chances of contamination. 

Source: The post is based on the article “India has world’s highest number of children with severe acute malnutrition: UNICEF” published in Down To Earth on 18th May 2022.

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