‘Thousands face malnutrition’

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OVER 98 000 children are at risk of acute malnutrition as the country experiences a devastating drought that has left eight million people hunger stricken. Acute malnutrition is a form of under-nutrition caused by a decrease in food consumption, causing sudden weight loss. Unicef nutrition manager Mathieu Joyeux said the organisation will be distributing food sachets to assist thousands of children that are not being properly fed.

“It is anticipated that in 2020, 98 100 children could be affected by acute malnutrition in Zimbabwe. Unicef aims to provide life-saving and critical assistance to women and children. “The first thing that we want to do is to procure high calorie food sachets that will be distributed to children,” he said. Joyeux said they are buying the sachets under a US$6 million budget which they are also using to train community health workers who are identifying malnutrition cases in communities.

“Malnutrition is a life threatening disease and we have realised that people do not usually seek treatment for it. “We now have a network of volunteers that are going to communities identifying children suffering from the disease. We are also training households on how to manage malnutrition,” Joyeux added. According to Unicef, only four in 100 children in the country are fed according to the minimum recommended acceptable diet.

Globally, close to 149 million children under five suffer from stunting, almost 50 million from wasting and
340 from the hidden hunger deficiencies of vitamins and minerals around the world. In Zimbabwe — where there are 6,3 million children, 21 percent of children between six and 59 months old reportedly have a vitamin A deficiency while 26 percent of the same age group are stunted. Meanwhile, a United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Unocha) report has revealed that over 47 000 children in Chipinge and Chimanimani were at risk of malnutrition and require extensive nutrition support to sustain them till the next harvest

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