UNICEF: Acute Malnutrition Surging Among Haitian Children

A nurse weighs a child in front of its mother at St. Luke Hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti January 29, 2020. Picture taken January 29, 2020. REUTERS/Valerie Baeriswyl/File Photo

Cases of life-threatening malnutrition are expected to more than double among young Haitian children this year, due to COVID-19, gang violence and extreme weather associated with climate change, the U.N. children’s fund UNICEF said on Monday.

Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, has long had one of the world’s highest levels of food insecurity and malnutrition but this has worsened in recent years.

More frequent droughts and intense storms have ravaged harvests, while anti-government protests have disrupted the economy and depressed Haitians’ already low income. The pandemic and growing gang violence are further hurting while deterring families from accessing healthcare services.

Around 4.4 million Haitians, nearly half the population, are facing “high acute” food insecurity, according to the U.N.’s Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis. Meanwhile UNICEF estimates 86,000 Haitian children under five could be affected by “severe acute” malnutrition this year, compared with 41,000 last year.

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SOURCE: Reuters